By Pauline Benetti
Special to The PREVIEW
How far we have come. Accompanying this article is a photo of the very first Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (GGP) ColorFest fundraiser in September of 2017.
Plan to join us this year on Sept. 21 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. during ColorFest to watch a mass of colorful balloons rise in the early morning sun and then dip down into the river and then rise again to go over our head, all the while enjoying a marvelous breakfast complete with mimosas and the lovely guitar stains of Steve Blechschmidt. See below for ticket information.
This historical photo shows the Education Dome that had just gone up in the summer of 2017. Piles of soil wait to be transferred inside into waiting beds and everyone involved in the GGP project was so excited at our first success.
Today the GGP can say it has fulfilled its stated goals — the site now includes three domes — add the Community Garden Dome and the Innovation Dome — and an attractive and useful community amphitheater, all as a result of GGP fundraising.
In cooperation with the Town of Pagosa Springs, there’s a permanent restroom, geothermally heated in the winter and including a water fountain; with help from the lunchtime Rotary Club, an impressive rock landscape is in place complete with some 20 flowering trees and a colorful bed of perennials encircling part of one dome with plans to do the same for the other domes.
This summer, we are seeing significant construction progress toward realization of the aquaponic demonstration site in the Innovation Dome. Huge blue fish tanks, concrete growing beds and a massive mezzanine built by Pagosa Springs High School students in Torry Hessman’s building trades classes complete the inside structure. On the outside, two evaporative coolers are in place to keep temperatures in the dome steady. We anticipate production by 2020.
In addition to site development, activities also thrive. The Education Dome continues to house sustainable growing classes for students from the high school and the middle school, charter school and home-schoolers — some 300 kids last year. The Community Garden Dome currently houses four community groups working together to increase production that ultimately will be distributed to the community, with more space available to interested groups. Bee hotels have popped up everywhere, colorful little structures attractive to our native bees and put in place by a joint effort of the Pagosa Family School, Archuleta School District, Audubon Rockies and the GGP.
The GGP is intent upon making this site a model of community collaboration in the achievement of our mission: to educate the community in sustainable agricultural practices by producing food year-round using local renewable energy. Volunteers have been fundraising since 2009 to realize the current level of development, and ongoing fundraising will continue development into the future and maintain what is already in place.
Our Breakfast with Balloons is one major fundraiser. It is brought to you through our several generous sponsors whose banners you will see on-site during the event and through the many in-kind donations that make the event possible, such as the breakfast, the beverages and the music.
The event’s success as a fundraiser now rests with our community, the beneficiary of our efforts. Tickets are $50 for adults and $20 for youth (12 and under) and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, at Exit Realty and online at pagosagreen.org. Members will enjoy bottomless mimosas.
We encourage you to participate. Be part of the community that gathers early Saturday morning to watch sun, mist and balloons rise together — truly a breathtaking sight. Recommendations: chair or a cushion to mitigate the effect of concrete and your own cup, flatware, napkin to mitigate your impact on the environment (compostable plates and glasses will be provided).
Alternately, there are other ways to support the continued development of this community asset. The website offers two membership options, annual and sustaining. Both are important; sustaining membership is especially critical to any organization since it represents a dependable stream of income which allows for mature budget development and a guarantee that the site will remain to be enjoyed by future generations. Join us in making Pagosa exciting and beautiful.