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Alternative Organics - Reese Tipis as Alternative Greenhouses
by Dion Puzon Sr.
Organic Producer Magazine

Dion Jr. called my attention one day to www.reesetipis.com, a Web site that advertises tipis. He had a proposition in mind, and when he finally found the time to tell me what it was, he first asked me how much spare property we had at the research facility. He knew that we had extra acreage, but to tease my imagination, he wanted to verify. At the time, I was in the process of constructing my own cold frame because being the retired teacher that I am, I like staying active with my organic gardening. We had always planted huge gardens while the kids were growing up, so his question about extra acreage was interesting. Do I smell "Project?"

That same day, Dion Jr. gave me an idea. He told me to get on the Reese Tipis Web site and read what they say about tipis in general. He beat me to another idea. He called Richard Reese and pitched the idea. A month later, we are producing a three-part editorial write-up about Reese Tipis, featuring his *GreenHouse TipiTM.

Richard Reese gave us a technical overview so that we would have a better understanding of his ideas and concepts. As I was listening to Richard and Dion Jr.'s conversation, I was also formulating my own ideas and possible questions, which we will explore within our upcoming three-part series. Reese, along with Dion Jr., and UniMinds Media, have chosen five spots in the Colorado area, and one location in Wisconsin. The GreenHouse TipisTM to be constructed and used for experimentation in Colorado include: two in Rocky Ford, two in Alamosa, and one located in Colorado Springs. Each Colorado location offers different elevations to sample the different data. The Wisconsin location is at UniMORF, UniMinds Media Organic Research Facility, which is nestled in the River Valley area. Let me introduce you to the wonderful people participating in our experiments. Greg and Mason Smith are a father-and-son team who farm primarily conventionally grown melons. They are from Rocky Ford, CO, at an elevation of 4,250 feet. They will be growing in 17- and 19-foot GreenHouse TipisTM, with the 17-foot being the hot bed. They have a produce store called Smith's Corner, which you will be able to visit to experience one of these Tipi GreenHousesTM. Steve Cole and Audrey Liu are organic gardeners who are knowledgeable about greenhouses and organic farming variables. They are from Alamosa, CO at an elevation of 7,400 feet. They will be growing in 17- and 19-foot GreenHouse TipisTM as well, with the 17-foot being the hot bed. As of one week after its being erected, Steve reports that the GreenHouse TipiTM is able to reach a temperature of 80 degrees in the daytime through natural solar convection. Each GreenHouse TipiTM is sheathed with ODIN International’s THOR Tarp series. We have chosen two types of materials to test. We will discuss in more detail the specifics of these tarps in the next issue. What about the 5th GreenHouse TipiTM you ask? This unit is being set up by the owner himself, Richard Reese. It will be kept in Colorado Springs. He will be growing, and most importantly researching and testing, in a 19-foot unit. The method of heating for the Wisconsin location is just as organic and green as this entire project. We will be using the INOV8 F125 Waste Oil Furnace capable of burning many fuels with zero smoke and clean stack emissions. We will have more details on this unit and it’s performance in the upcoming issues. For all of this climate control monitoring, we have chosen La Crosse Technology Ltd. with their wonderful line of weather monitoring products. We will be referring to and reviewing each unit. This data will be made available online as well.   Over the course of six months, we will be furnishing you with descriptions and data on the farming and growing procedures used in these greenhouses. We will be starting seeds and growing seedlings while keeping records for all of us to see and evaluate. In the next issue, we will discover what we are busy growing and how each unit is holding up. We will also be exploring more in-depth coverage of the tools and products we are using. For updates, more specific data, and to learn more about the people and products involved, please visit us at www.greenhousetipi.com

See you next issue!


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