The University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development
Partnerships (RSDP) along with the Center for Sustainable Building Research (CSBR)
at the University of Minnesota College of Design will partner with Bemidji
Community Food Shelf to test a prototype Deep Winter Greenhouse (DWG) that is
designed to help farmers grow fresh produce throughout the winter months.
DWGs are passive solar, low-cost, low-carbon winter food production systems.
Producers using DWG technology are able to grow winter-hardy crops such as
lettuces, cole crops (e.g., cabbages, broccoli, Asian greens), and various
sprouts with little or no added heat. The structure is built with a
south-facing, angled glazing wall that captures heat from the sun. Heat is
stored in an underground rock bed and dissipates into the above-ground planting
area at night. The University’s prototype builds on earlier designs to increase
insulation capacity and reduce electric use in the greenhouse.
According to RSDP Associate Director for Local Foods and Sustainable Agriculture
Greg Schweser, “Existing common season extension techniques such as high tunnels
and row covers extend the season, but are unable to provide capacity to produce
product in the winter. Passive solar Deep Winter Greenhouses optimize production
in the winter months, giving farmers the ability to produce from October through
March and bridge from the beginning to the end of the traditional production
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