Our Dirt Work Leads to a Food Revolution

Jamie Oliver visits Growing Dome Greenhouse in Arizona

Each weekend I have a chance to look at our culture from a big picture place and notice both the troubles we are facing globally and in the US, as well as see the progress of those innovators who are bringing solutions. In an article, in 2011, Jessica Murray talked about the revolutionary times of the late 60’s for our generation being a precursor for today. “In the 60’s the looming dread was the atomic bomb. Now it’s environmental degradation; happening faster than anyone would have thought possible.”  The term “ecocide” questions whether we will as a global society, extinguish ourselves via rising seas, lack of clean water and systems collapse.

I am aware that the period of turmoil we are in, including the disenfranchisement of the middle class in America leads to despair in some and to inspiring ingenuity and idealism in others.

Jamie Oliver is one of those visionaries who bring us down to the practical basics of how to once again create good nutrition by returning to our kitchens and our gardens. I am not surprised that he is British, as my own experience of my British husband Udgar’s ideals and love of food are rooted in his experience of Rationing after World War II.  The imprint of this on his life is part of the solution he created in the Growing Dome® Greenhouse.

I am aware too that his vision includes teaching about “free resources” like the sun. We joke about being “dirt people” because, like the Slow Money movement, a part of our mission is to teach people how to literally replenish the earth. In future, we hope to sponsor teaching the principles of Shumei Natural Agriculture who are the masters of this.

RFHSMay2010-145web-225x300Our Growing Domes were designed to work in the Rocky Mountain winter. Most simply, this is possible because of a combination of a passive solar design and mindful gardening that uses frost hardy plants. Teaching how to garden in sync with the seasons and how to effectively use the heat and light of the sun is our mission.  We are showing people how to see Nature as teacher and to live and work within her natural cycles. There are hidden gifts in this experience. But, as we travel North into dark winters and South into hot summers, of course we must augment our systems for year round growing. It is wonderful to meet so many other innovators who are inventing alternative energy solutions now. Our own involvement in our local geothermal development is motivated by wanting to find new sustainable sources of energy. These endeavors are an exciting part of our era. We both feel that a “new energy economy” could restore our culture, in the same way the Industrial Revolution in the 40’s and 50’s invigorated our society.

But often an idea is so simple, that it is not understood. For some, growing older and having tried many things means we becoming more “essential” and simple… much as the Zen tradition, points to simplicity and spaciousness as a way of life. Awareness-based living becomes more and more subtle in discipline. If we are moving too fast, or from our mental constructs, as we are trained to do in American culture, we can miss a practice based on holistic models.The simple message of returning to the earth through gardening, cooking in one’s own kitchen, and also becoming as economical as possible, is missed until the “practice” becomes a Way of Life.

Our great gratitude in 2012 was that our product was noticed and wanted increasingly by public schools, which is a new audience for us. (Check out this video from Galileo School of Math & Science: https://growingspaces.com/school-garden-program-inside-and-out/)  The idea of a “living laboratory” for science on all levels, and the emotional support of a horticulture experience for kids of all ages is really showing in our client base. We had around 85 private schools as clients in years gone by, but the attraction to sustainable living systems is showing in the public arena now, even from universities like KTH Institute, the MIT of Sweden.Over the weekend, I watched Jamie Oliver receive Harvard’s Healthy Cup Award from for his work with schools and families in his now-famous Food Revolution. You can watch the video too here at: http://youtu.be/TlZujqScPos.

He endorsed our Growing Dome in 2009 as a “symbol of hope” on his American Road Tour, at the Navajo Nation, in Arizona.

We celebrate that we too are a part of this movement, and we hope that it will continue to grow around the world, on his second annual Food Revolution Day, this May 17th.

1 Comment

  • Puja –
    I loved your beautifully written article and enjoyed remembering my Jamie Oliver/ Navajo dome build experience. I also see the growing dome as a powerful symbol of hope for our collective future.
    I am exited to start a dome build on Monday for another fertile school community, Evergreen Country Day school in Colorado. We will send you pictures as this project evolves. I received a call from a reporter at the Denver Post with question about this project. They will have a photographer on site on Monday recording the students hand on involvement in their dome build.

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