An Amish farm in rural Aroostook County is not usually the type of place people look to for something new and innovative. But the Mountain View Farm in Dyer Brook has done just that, thanks to a partnership with a local food delivery company and Unity College to produce a commercial greenhouse that is likely the first of its kind in the state.
Known as a “Walipini,” a word borrowed from indigenous Bolivian language of Aymara that means “place of warmth,” it is a type of greenhouse that is buried underground within the soil, though the roof remains uncovered to let sunlight in.
“What that does is allow the greenhouse to use geothermal heat and cooling to keep it at a good temperature year-round for growing all kinds of fun produce,” Roxanne Bruce, the founder and owner of ShopSmallFarms LLC, said.
Noah and Mary Mast, the Amish couple who owns Mountain View farm, told Bruce’s company they wanted to grow more produce. The family had been using a heated greenhouse, but expanding that would mean having to go out and gather more wood every day for heating in the winter. That’s when Bruce suggested the Walipini design.