The Greenhouse Saga
From Dream to Reality on the Culinary Farmstead
Welcome to the Culinary Farmstead newsletter. I'm Jess Lewis, founder of Culinary Farmstead and an advocate for regenerative agriculture, food sustainability, permaculture, and herbal healing. As a farmsteader, chef, and herbalist, I'm dedicated to promoting sustainable cooking practices that nourish the land and the people who depend on it. In this weekly newsletter, you'll find tips and ideas for growing your own food, cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and how to incorporate herbal medicine into a healthy lifestyle. Join me on a journey of food, farming, and community building.
Today — finally — I’m excited to share with you an exhilarating chapter in our Culinary Farmstead journey - the completion of our dream greenhouse. As you know, our farm is dedicated to all things food, plants, and preserving our beautiful piece of land through regenerative agriculture. We've been working tirelessly to create a sustainable oasis where we can grow a variety of plants, teach and share the bounties through our culinary classes and experiences, and spread our love of farmsteading with our community.
The path to realizing this dream wasn't without a few bumps along the way. From the initial excitement to the challenges we faced, and finally to the triumph of seeing our dream come to life, we hope that our experience serves as both a testament to dreaming big and a source of inspiration for your own farmsteading adventures.
As many of you know, our goal has always been to create a regenerative farm that demonstrates the connection between the land, the delicate conversations between flora and fauna, and the foods that we eat. Back on our farm in Colorado, we managed to create a system that was cyclical, always balancing nature, with very little waste coming from animal husbandry or our gardens. If you stayed on our farm, you got to witness this first-hand. We've always wanted to educate people about the importance of land preservation and how all things are connected - right down to what's served on our plates when we gather for our culinary experiences.
Once we moved to our new farm in Western North Carolina, one of the key steps to achieving this yet again was to build a greenhouse, where we could grow a variety of edible crops year-round and experiment with new ways to grow our food now that we weren't dealing with gardening at high altitudes. I envisioned something out of a story-book, tucked in the trees in just the right way to take advantage of shade and light throughout the seasons.
The Flying Greenhouse
Our first attempt to build the greenhouse was not without its share of problems. We hired a company that seemed to have good reviews and promised to deliver our vision. Unfortunately, their work fell short of our expectations. As the greenhouse took shape, we realized that it wasn't what we had imagined – the materials were subpar, and lacked the ability to withstand time AND they had the worst time leveling the building. They had to build it twice. At one point, the entire greenhouse was jacked up in the air by two feet and then fell to the ground — it warped in the process. To be fair, they bit off WAY more than they could chew, and we did go into it knowing they hadn’t built anything this big before. We wanted to give them a chance to expand their skills but, alas, the flying greenhouse just didn’t work out.
We knew we couldn't settle for a greenhouse that didn't meet our vision (or one that wasn’t level), so we made the decision to have it disassembled and removed. We dissolved our relationship with the first company amicably - we all knew it was for the best. This was a significant setback in our growing timeline and quite disappointing, but we weren't going to give up on our dream.
A Friend to the Rescue
As luck would have it, a close friend of ours from Hill Bottom Farm stepped in to save the day. With years of experience in construction, he offered to help us build our dream greenhouse. We collaborated on the design, incorporating automated features, and prioritizing the use of materials that would be long-lasting and blend beautifully into our landscape. He knew just what to do to level the building with something called a leveling wall and it ended up so much sturdier than I imagined!
The Dream Comes True
After months of hard work, our dream greenhouse is finally complete! It's everything we hoped for and more. With a little help from automated windows and beautiful Dutch doors, our plants are thriving in a healthy and comfortable environment. The design optimizes sunlight and airflow, and we'll be incorporating both a rainwater harvesting system to minimize water waste and an aquaponics heat-sink to help keep the inside climate perfect all year 'round.
We couldn't be happier with the outcome, and we are excited to share this new addition to our farmstead with all of you. If you're local to Shelby, we look forward to welcoming you for culinary workshops in our beautiful greenhouse, where we'll explore the wonders of farm-to-table together.
We are eager to continue sharing our passion for food, plants, and land preservation with you. Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming events, workshops, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of life on Culinary Farmstead. We hope that our story inspires you to keep pursuing your dreams, even when faced with challenges.
Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey, and we can't wait to share more exciting developments with you soon!
Wishing you all the best in your own farmsteading adventures.
Want to see more? Below are a LOT more pics throughout the journey. I’ll also do a short video walk through in an upcoming post.
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