Monday, October 10, 2011

Winter CSAs'

    Is there anything bad about being part of a CSA?  You receive a variety of super fresh, locally grown, vegetables and fruits, directly from the farm to the consumer.

   The only part that takes a little bit of thought, at least for me, is having to come up with new recipes for veggies and fruits that I don’t normally buy and eat.  But really, is adding variety and vitamins to our diets a negative thing?  How terrific would it be to have CSA’s all year round even in winter?  Winter Sun Farms is doing this through Blue Ridge Food Ventures and local farms.  Check them out at

   A great way to to grow winter vegies in WNC is to grow indoors in greenhouses.  WNC winters can be harsh and we often experience snow, frigid winds and temperatures.  Greenhouses provide shelter, heat and a controlled environment.  So, why don’t all farmers do this?  I assume it’s due to the difficulty and cost of building and maintaining greenhouses with heating as its highest energy expense.

    RGEES, LLC is currently working on developing a procedure for heat storage solutions in greenhouses by maximizing the thermal mass and using latent heat storage through phase change materials.  What is thermal mass and latent heat storage?  It is anything that absorbs solar heat and energy during the day when the sun is out and then releases it at a later time.  Our main purpose is to design a practical and useful system that will dramatically reduce overall energy costs by decreasing fossil fuel consumption.

   We welcome any and all input from farmers, greenhouse owners/operators and experts on greenhouse heating and cooling.

--We’d like to know what your biggest challenge is concerning temperature?
--What kind of return on investment you expect (less than 5 years, 5-10 years)    

If you already have a greenhouse, we’d like to know about:  location in relation to seasonal temps, square footage of gh, structural layout, coverings, insulation materials, thermal mass, time/seasons of operation, desired gh temperatures for summer and winter months, heat/cooling systems, fossil fuel consumption, annual energy costs.

   Please feel free to contact me at