April 03 2013

Four-Season Growing in an Alpine Climate: The Growing Dome at Truckee Community Farm

“No matter where you are, what your constraints are, you can make it happen.”

- Susie Sutphin, Farm Manager at the Truckee Community Farm

Compost-Grow Dome

The Tahoe Food Hub has a vision: to create a “hub for all sustainable food initiatives that promote social, economic and environmental responsibility in our food system.” With help from its community members and more, the Tahoe Food Hub is on the right track. One of four of their programs and services is the Dome Raising Project – a geodesic dome located in Truckee, CA that supports four-season growing in an alpine climate.


The dome’s design is simple: 850 square feet, thirty-three feet in diameter and six feet triangles made from polycarbonate-glazing panels create the dome-like structure, designed to capture the path of sunlight. The Tahoe Food Hub’s hope is that the growing dome at the Truckee Community Farm will serve as a model that will be replicated throughout the region, allowing food to be grown locally year round for community members.

The main challenge of year-round growing in a mountain environment is temperature. The dome’s design and features create a stable climate for growing by helping regulate temperature within the structure. Some of the key features of the dome that help achieve this are:

  • The materials of the structure, through both shape and design, allow soft diffused light into the structure and keep heat from escaping;

  • North wall insulation which keep air warm in the winter, and cool in the summer through shading;

  • A water tank, which serves as a temperature regulator, and helps with humidity and plant-soil water retention. The tank can also be used for aquaponics.

Inside the grow-dome

The demand for growing domes and local food is definitely increasing in Tahoe. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Tahoe community, the Kelly Brothers, Susie Sutphin and the Tahoe Food Hub for their work to make a more sustainable food system.

What are some growing initiatives taking place in your community that contribute to a more sustainable and equitable food system?

Credits: Images by Amanda Christian. Data linked to sources.

Alex Riemondy

Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country bicycle trip in support of affordable housing. During the trip she became fascinated with connecting communities through the development of safe cycling routes. On a bike, she is constantly thinking about her urban environment and how it can grow to meet the needs of her community. Although currently living in Hummelstown, PA - having recently returned from working on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica - she plans to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in Southern California. Finding happiness through connecting with her community and environment, she is most interested in improving citizen quality of life though: bicycle and pedestrian planning, green street design, and increasing citizen participation in the planning process.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 at 9:12 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Environmental Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Four-Season Growing in an Alpine Climate: The Growing Dome at Truckee Community Farm”

  1. Patricia Kent Says:

    Thank you for this article, Alex! I live in Mammoth Lakes, CA and there are some individuals interested in a community garden. Unfortunately we have a short growing season due to the cold at high altitude and wild animals! This seems like an interesting alternative that we should look into. Good luck with your studies and keep posting! -Patricia

  2. Alex Riemondy Says:

    Thank you for sharing Patricia! For information on geodesic greenhouse kits check out Growing Spaces-http://www.geodesic-greenhouse-kits.com/. Best of luck in your gardening endeavors!

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