Friday, October 12, 2018

Our first official workday on the greenhouse was a huge event. We created a facebook event and sent it to everyone who had expressed an interest in helping with the project. It was also added to the events section of our church bulletin, which is where the majority of our volunteers came from.

Throughout the day I think we had about 30 people drop in and help. Most people didn't stay the whole time, but I would like to say a huge thank-you to those who did. The last several hours we worked were spent in the rain. Despite the bad weather, we managed to get one wall completely done and two more most of the way completed. I couldn't have been happier with how our first workday went.

Since our first workday on July 7th, 2018 we worked every Saturday, and some Sundays, through August 11th. The finishing touches were done on August 11th, and we held a thank-you BBQ for everyone who helped that evening.

The greenhouse is being put to good use as the weather cools down here in North Carolina. The last time I visited during a break from college it was full of seedlings and potted plants, ready for winter. The farm owners are planning workdays to add heating and sometime in the future we will see solar panels installed to provide power to the greenhouse.

While I wish I could be more involved with what is currently happening at the greenhouse, I am so glad it is in great hands while I am away. Sometime in the future I will continue my work at the greenhouse. In the meantime, I am making plans to build several more greenhouses around the community. These will be documented here, as well as other things I do involving my project.

Sunday, July 29, 2018


Over the span of several months the ground was prepped to began building the greenhouse. Sometime in May the ground was leveled, then the footers were dug. Following that we had concrete poured, two rows of blocks laid, and the ground weeded again. In the meantime, I talked to Lowe's about getting a discount on the building material that could not be recycled (mainly lumber) and they agreed to give us our initial order at their cost.This lumber was picked up and delivered to the farm in June.

A construction crew that was working elsewhere on the farm oversaw the pouring of the cement. I was fortunate to have the help of so many people who had experience in construction.

Look at the rest of the garden beds in the background - don't they look so much better than the last time you saw them?!

In this picture you can see the lines my dad and I helped string so the work crews would know where to dig the footers. That was a learning experience for me as I had no idea how perfect the lines needed to be.

The first layer of block was laid while I was not there, but the work crew did an excellent job (despite the concrete not being level).

The awesome crew who helped us unload $1100 worth of lumber and building supplies into the barn across from the greenhouse space. With our Lowe's discount we only spent about $800 - still a lot of wood though.

Here I'm being taught how to lay blocks as we begin the second row. This was also a learning experience and I got the chance to get dirty.

We worked until almost 10:30 laying block - over 5 hours total. I missed dinner and gave my mom a small heart attack when I didn't answer my phone the whole time. I was elbow-deep in mortar and mud though, so it's probably better I didn't have my phone with me.

After months of waiting it was finally time to start the greenhouse construction, but first we had some work to do to prepare the area. This crew helped level out the dirt mounds on every side of the space from the where the footers had been dug. We also weeded...again.

Even though this was a hot and sunny day I can't express how excited I was to be there because it meant my dream was finally taking shape in a tangible way - the next day we would be starting the greenhouse.

The Very Beginning

As we began planning we decided the best place to put the greenhouse would be in the middle of the existing garden beds. At the end of 2017, these garden beds had been left to the weeds and were overgrown with brush that was taller than me (over 6 feet!). The best course of action to clear an area for the greenhouse was burning the brush. So last October (2017), we went to work clearing the area.
Bundled up in layers to protect us against the cold, we worked all morning to clear a 30-foot area for the greenhouse in the middle of the overgrowth. Large enough for us to drive a tractor or truck on either side once the greenhouse was built.

Both of the 100-foot beds and the space between them had become overgrown after the summer harvest was over.

All bundled up against the freezing, October weather, we got started.

The overgrowth was overwhelming when we first started, but with a quick lesson in using the torch we were on our way.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


The inspiration for this project came out of nowhere. I had been looking forward to working on my Gold Award for a long time, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. Several years ago I came up with the idea to build a greenhouse out of recycled materials for the food pantries to use. After a lot of research I decided this wasn't going to work out and started working toward beginning a different project.

In October of 2017, my mom took the local home-
school group (which she helped with) out to a local farm to learn about what they did there. The woman who owned this farm expressed her desire for a greenhouse, and my mom told her about my idea.

From there we started meeting and planning. A fundraiser was held in March of 2018 to raise funds for the building materials. Facebook posts and emails went out to start collecting glass bottles and old windows. Community members came together to provide me with a couple thousand bottles and enough windows and doors to build two greenhouses of the same size (12x16).

There were significant setbacks during every step of the process. I won't go into details, but the challenges continued to stack up. However, I am happy to say that after almost a year of planning, we are finally almost done with the greenhouse. Because of all the delays on the main part of my project, other aspects were also put off. These will be documented as they occur in the coming months as opposed to looking back on them as I will do with the greenhouse.

I hope you'll stay tuned to learn about what happened with my greenhouse and see what happens in the coming months.

Above you'll see the concept design for the greenhouse. This was entered into a scholarship contest for world-changing projects.