Designs, Tricks, and Schemes

Grass walls, not glass walls


Though I’ve often whined about the 9-5 life that stops me from spending nearly as much time in my garden as I’d like, once in a while I do benefit from my job. Like now, as we complete our first GREEN issue (yeah, not exactly first out of the gate on that one). In spite of the depressing realization that our house will never be passive solar, geothermal, or sustainably insulated, I’ve enjoyed finding out about the many ways others are finding sustainable living and working possible.

For example, there are several straw bale structures in the Buffalo area, including a house and a greenhouse. That seems kind of amazing when you think of it. Buffalo. Straw house. The two concepts don’t seem quite compatible, but apparently they are. And of course I thought of Michele’s greenhouse yearnings.

A straw bale greenhouse has been built on the West Side as part of a youth agriculture training project. The top and front of the greenhouse are polycarbonate, bringing in the sun, while the straw bale walls keep the heat in. (Oh, yes, I’m sure it’s all way more complicated than that, but you can google the rest for yourself.)

What attracts me is that it’s an earthy, steadfast way of defying the vicissitudes of nature and making things grow as the icy blasts rage outside. I love our 1905 Lord & Burnham glasshouse complex, but I also know how much grant money and reconstruction is necessary to keep the thing in one piece. One of the houses always seems to be out of commission. This, on the other hand, seems much less of a lift financially (130 bales at $4 each is all it took). I do wonder if clear walls as well as a clear roof are necessary for the crops, but I guess we’ll all know when the new greenhouse is put to work this spring.

Photo at top by Meg Knowles, who also has produced a documentary about the Growing Green youth agriculture program and its greenhouse.

Posted by on February 13, 2008 at 5:00 am, in the category Designs, Tricks, and Schemes.
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3 responses to “Grass walls, not glass walls”

  1. Gloria says:

    Interesting,I would like to visit a strawbale greenhouse to see how it utilized.
    As for clear sides google passive solar greenhouse. You will see explanations and designs explaining
    how the winter sun course and insulation against northwest wind and shade are used to lower or eliminate heating bills.

  2. commonweeder says:

    I love the idea of a strawbale greenhouse. One of our Local Heroes, Amy Klippenstein and her husband of Sidehill Farm in Ashfield, MA are experts on strawbale construction. Their strawbale house looks like a magical mushroom with its Green Roof set in a woodland. Another friend and her husband built a strawbale stable/studio – comfortable for all kinds of life.

  3. Wheatgrass says:

    I recently saw an article where a table was decorated with wheatgrass and a green theme. I love natural looking things rather than modern man made.