our 

greenhouse

Designed & Constructed by 

Farmer Ben

Greenhouse
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In early 2020, we (aka Farmer Ben) conceptualised our V-roof greenhouse design. Instead of the conventional dome-shaped roof often seen in temperate countries, we chose a high v-shaped roof with high points on either side, allowing it to vent hot air quickly and keep the greenhouse cool without having to restrict the amount of sunlight coming in. It would be designed from the ground up to optimise performance in the hot tropics. 

Such a design is unprecedented for a greenhouse, and presented many uncertainties with regard to structural integrity. We saw potential in the concept however, and set out to design and build the greenhouse ourselves.

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We mixed concrete and laid foundations in Feb 2020. Unfortunately, our plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic as worldwide supply chains were affected and there were severe delays in the arrival of the steel fasteners we needed.

With the help of some close friends, we installed a temporary structure with a conventional roof as a hold-over just before Circuit Breaker. However, half the roof collapsed when heavy rains caused the wire clips to slip.  Though we were disheartened, it gave us valuable insight on the gradients needed to quickly move water off the roof and prevent sagging of the plastic sheet. We reviewed and revised our final roof design, making it both lighter and stronger. The steel fasteners we needed arrived in April, and we could finally begin construction!.. but not before disassembling the temporary structure.  The base and walls came up quickly, but it wasn't until August that the roof was complete. It was greatly rewarding, standing under the roof and seeing it perform flawlessly during the heavy afternoon thunderstorms that are typical for that time of year.

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We spent the next two months put up the netting for the sides and moved on to complete our grow beds and trellises. Our first plants, a selected line of the heirloom Italian kale Nero di Toscana, were transplanted in mid-Dec 2020. They served to confirm and fine-tune the characteristics of the media, irrigation and drainage systems we had built into the beds, and were the main course in a vegan private dinner.

After almost a year of designing and construction, we welcomed our first visitors at January 2021's Farm Day Out.

Though the external structure is about done, the work will continue. The viability of our greenhouse hinges on several automation technologies that we've been developing in-house over the past year. They are challenging to implement, but will allow us to achieve a level of quality in our produce at a scale that would otherwise be impossible with such a small team. Many of the design choices for the greenhouse were made to accommodate such technologies, while the physical constraints of the structure in turn influenced the implementation of these systems. It's because of this that a seemingly simple structure took almost an entire year to be completed. Regardless, we're confident of the quality of our produce, and excited to make that available to you. We're grateful for the journey and the opportunity to share this with all of you. 

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