By Al Pfister
Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership
2020 presented numerous challenges for all of us, among those challenges was a significant increase in the need for supplemental food supplies for many within our community.
The Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (GGP) was able to further our mission via the addition of a solar array around our domes in Centennial Park to enable us to work with other organizations within the community to meet that need.
Through a very generous grant from La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) and the efforts of others, a 5.36 kw solar photovoltaic system was installed at the GGP site/Pagosa’s Renewable Energy Campus/Centennial Park late this past fall. The electricity generated by the solar array will supplement the geothermal energy derived from Pagosa’s local hot spring via the town’s geothermal network to further facilitate a more intensive year-round growing in our domes. All this is combining to assist us in accomplishing our mission of “educating the community in sustainable agricultural practices by producing food year-round using local renewable energy.”
The GGP received a $13,000 grant through LPEA’s Renewable Energy Credit Program that we matched via the charitable donations received from our numerous members and sponsors. Those combined monies were used to purchase materials and supplement the labor and donations of time by businesses that resulted in the installation of the array.
This supplemental renewable energy source will reduce our electric costs as we increase our production of produce for the local community through more intensive growing practices. This reduction in our electrical costs comes at a very critical time. Through a grant from the Food Coalition and via a donation from Archuleta County, we have obtained 30 grow lights to increase our production for other partners that have teamed with the Food Coalition to provide food to those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. We have used the additional financial resources from the Food Coalition and hired an additional intensive gardening specialist to take on the challenge of growing additional food that will be provided to those in need by other Food Coalition partners.
While we are limiting the number of people in the domes at any one time (with no visitors) or having any classes from the local schools due to COVID-19 concerns, our incredible volunteers continue to assist our intensive gardeners to grow in these tough times. As such, we invite you to take a peek through the windows to see what we are growing in the middle of winter with renewable energy. Or, as a special treat, come by in the early morning hours or just after dusk (depending on when we can get the plants extra growing light at the lowest rate) and see the domes glowing purple and growing aplenty.