Designing a Giant Greenhouse for the Ocean View Growing Grounds

So, I may have mentioned this before, but I do some volunteer work at a local community garden that’s right around the corner from my house. It’s a huge lot that has been generously rented to us by the land owner for some ridiculous amount. Like $5 a year or the like. He did this because he wanted to see something worthwhile on this vacant lot and decided to go the route of saint in this noble gift to the community. How often does that happen in this world? Especially with the cost of real estate in Southern California!

You see, I live in what is called a food desert. Smack dab in the center of it in fact. Fresh produce and healthy food alternatives simply don’t exist in any abundance around here. People often have to resort to quick fixes in order to feed their family and those quick fixes tend to put one in the grave even quicker. Money is tight around these parts, so driving to farmers markets or the like isn’t often an option for some.

In partnership with The Global ARC and UCSD, the community now has the backing and power to fix the problem on a grass roots level. This is something I’m proud to be a part of. I don’t toot my horn on this often, if at all, on this blog regarding my work with the Ocean View Growing Grounds. I feel uneasy about talking about my volunteer work as if the boasting detracts from the noble efforts in some fashion. I wanted to share the latest project, however, because I’m pretty proud of this greenhouse design and want to share its construction with my readers. Plus, I want you to forgive me when I don’t post as often as I should. Sometimes I’m just swamped between working at SDMA, tending my own yard and working at the community garden.

Efforts are beginning to redouble at the OVGG and I think it’s time to bring you all into the fold. Many of the projects there mirror what I’m doing in my own yard 200 feet away. Just as it was with my soil, so it is with OVGG’s dirt. A clay riddled barren loam with no existing topsoil to speak of. That’s changing now though and we are making things grow to feed the community at long last!

One of the dreams of our noble effort is to construct a large greenhouse where we can grow as well as teach. We want students and neighborhood children be able to learn these skills. We want families to take these practices back to their own yards so that the whole community can radiate outward a vast oasis of healthy green fruits and vegetable turning this food desert into an urban Eden. For more information, check out this lovely article from the UC San Diego’s website!

The design had to serve both functions as a working greenhouse and a classroom. Care to take a virtual tour of the place? I thought you might. And, of course, I’ve spared no expense for the special effects of this high tech super futuristic 3D rendering! Anything for you my loyal readers! Lets go…


Did you enjoy the tour? I hope so! The next step is to nail down permits for such a large structure and begin to build! I’m proud to be able to bring my carpentry and design skills to the table at OVGG as well as my responsible organic sustainable gardening practices and will continue to be there throughout the entire process. If you’re a local San Diegan, I hope you’ll stop on by sometime to lend a hand and get dirty with us! We never have as shortage of projects going and could always use the support!

In the meantime, I’ll be sure to post more of these projects as soon as I can learn to put down the shovel and pick axe and pick up the camera.

13 Replies to “Designing a Giant Greenhouse for the Ocean View Growing Grounds”

  1. Wow, has design presentation changed since I dated an architecture major in the 70’s! What software generated that video? Did you consider a high tunnel? (NRCS grants are available.) Thanks for briefly relinquishing your modestly. 😉

    1. It has changed indeed. There are some programs out there for real architects that are out of this world on the coolness factor. This one is SketchUp.

      We have talked about a hoop style greenhouse. A lot of people in the community garden are hoping for a more impressive and permanent structure. Time will tell.

      The good people at the Global Arc are helping us with grant writing and wheels are in motion! Thanks for your advice Aggie!

      1. Eh, hope I didn’t offer advice- lol. I did get a handout at the recent organic conference saying that someone raised 14k lb of food in one year in a small high tunnel.

        How cool! I just used free Sketchup to map our farm with google earth, noticing that I was bypassing the architectural wing. Will explore it when I have time.

        Perhaps Global Arc can assist us – thanks for naming them. Hugs!

  2. Bravo! Lookin’ reeeal good. Now for the small step of building it into reality. What sort of plants will be grown inside this lovely structure?

    1. What? That’s the easy part;) as for plants, it’ll be changing all the time. We’d like to get some hydroponics going and will be starting seeds in there to feed the beds outside. The better question is what won’t we be growing in there.

  3. I LOVE THIS POST James! ! We are green kindred spirits my cyber friend. Inspiring and supporting others to grow their own food is dear to my heart. I co-founded in the inner city of Sydney. All the same philosophies as your community group. Don’t be concerned with sharing about your community work as I for one LOVE hearing about it. So inspiring! As for that land owner, he deserves a very big ‘well done’, as you do James!

    1. Thanks Sarhn! Kindred spirits indeed! It warms the heart to know that there are other green warriors out there doing the good and healthy work! The landowner, Bob, truly is am inspiration to me. He always says yes to whatever we need and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty either. I’m so lucky to have found a house a stones throw away from an emerging community garden. I can get involved right from the start. Cheers and thank you!

      1. James it certainly would be a community garden project I would want to be apart of, if I lived ‘a stones throw away’. Hey even if I lived in the same Country. Cheers 🙂

  4. Your design looks wonderful. Amazing that I found this because I hope to build one of these for the exact same purposes that you mention, in south east San Diego, for Mt. Hope Community Garden. Are you planning to share your design? You sketchup work looks great. Please contact me…

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