US (MN): A closer look at the deep winter greenhouse going up on 15th Ave.

On South 15th Avenue, half a block south of E. 28th St., Tamales y Bicicletas is building a winter greenhouse on its urban garden space. For ten years, the nonprofit has used bikes and urban farming to reduce the environmental impacts of the heavy concentration of industry on the East Phillips community. “How do we decolonize our food systems that then leads to decolonizing our minds and bodies?” asks Jose Luis Villaseñor Rangel, the founder of Tamales y Bicicletas. “That’s always been the DNA of why we do what we do.” 

The construction of a winter greenhouse is Tamales y Bicicletas’ latest project. Daniel Handeen, a professor of architecture and a Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota who designed this greenhouse model, was looking for a way to grow crops through the winter with minimal additional heating inputs. The goal was to generate as little carbon dioxide output as possible. Handeen’s design is being constructed by Tamales y Bicicletas and by Appetite for Change on Minneapolis’ north side. 

“The project came from all the peripheral issues about food insecurity and food justice. We didn’t want to have to rely on drought-prone Valley Central crops being brought in. We wanted to be able to provide for ourselves, regionally and locally,” explains Handeen. 

This farm-scale greenhouse emerged from the Version 2 deep winter greenhouse model – trying to make a more accessible version in terms of cost, constructability, and space. This greenhouse is cheaper per square foot than its predecessor. It will have enough insulation to allow plants to grow through the winter without relying on heating systems or expensive lights. Handeen and other researchers will put sensors in the finished greenhouse to monitor how well the greenhouse design is able to stabilize temperature. 

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