Behind the Green: Building a Greenhouse at Common Roots

It was a gusty day in June, and Common Roots was a site to see. In every corner of the farm there was activity. Student farmers were harvesting a mesclun medley in the market gardens, alongside Deep Roots farmers from ISANS. Volunteers were wheelbarrowing backfill, while others were assembling the shade sail frames for what will soon be an enchanting children’s garden.

And then on the other side of the farm there was this:

greenhouse frame build??????????????????????
shoveling backfill

This series of scenes is what the groundwork for a greenhouse looks like.

…At least, for a greenhouse being built on top of several feet of pulverized concrete. Common Roots Urban Farm is getting a new greenhouse. And when I say new, I mean an all-new, never-before-been-used design. The 14 x 24 foot HomeGrown Greenhouse was recently designed by Vincent (to whom I’ve taken to calling the “Greenhouse Guy”) of Halifax Seed.


The Our Food Team at the Ecology Action Centre, Common Roots, Halifax Seed, and dedicated volunteers teamed up to help construct the frame for the greenhouse. First, the site had to be excavated. Vincent noted that in places like the Annapolis valley, where the ground is softer and sandier, the greenhouse frame can just be drilled into the ground with a relative amount of ease. But in this case, we are working with the remnants of a demolished highschool, upon which the entire farm rests. The process of greenhouse-building varies, and is very site specific. So in our case, the day involved shovelling our fair share of excavated concrete, rocks, asphalt and turf.

The site, located on the west (Robie Street) side of the farm, was measured off and leveled. Then the cement tubes (the foundation for the greenhouse) were placed. And finally, there was the cementing itself.

Somehow, a 20-tonne cement truck meandered its way onto the farm. Once again, EAC staff found themselves knee-deep in the diversity of their work….this time filling up and reinforcing the cement forms.

The cement truck arrives on site
Filling the tubes
Cementstars Aimee and Will

With new projects popping up on the farm like lamb’s quarters, I think it’s fair to say that Common Roots is the perfect first growing-home for this homegrown project.


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