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Stories from The Lodge at Blue Sky

Stories from The Lodge at Blue Sky

Learn Greenhouse Innovation

Greenhouse at blue sky

The Greenhouse at Gracie’s Farm is a unique place during the winter months. Built to extend the longevity of Utah’s short growing season, it offers a bright patch of greenery amidst the white snowy landscape. Guests have a chance to tour the greenhouse to get a firsthand look at the technology behind winter produce and smell the aroma of fresh growing greens in the cold winter months.

While greenhouses can open doors for a wide array of foods to enjoy year-round, the energy required to heat the interior can take a toll on the environment. That’s why our greenhouse uses the natural laws of science and the earth’s qualities to accomplish our growing goals.

How it Works

Our greenhouse, like many others, uses polycarbonate glazing to absorb and trap sunlight and heat during the day, providing a warm and comfortable environment for the right crops. But because of our harsh climate, we also need to protect the crops inside from freezing temperatures both day and night.

The Greenhouse uses a Ground Air Heat Transfer (GAHT) system to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the seasons. Several fans push air through large pipes that lie seven feet under ground. Because the temperature of the earth at that depth is generally the same temperature all the time, (55-65 degrees), this air is pushed through the greenhouse to warm it during the winter and cool it during the summer. While the greenhouse will never be tropical in the middle of winter, this air transfer keeps it from freezing even during the coldest of winter days.

Additionally, the greenhouse uses a silicone packet technology hung from the south facing wall of the greenhouse. These packets absorb the sun’s heat during the day as the packets turn from solid to liquid. Then at night, when the sun sets and the temperatures cool, these packets solidify once again, and all the heat that has been captured during the day, will be exuded into the greenhouse at night, keeping the plants inside warm.

It’s a very efficient, environmentally sustainable way to grow fresh produce year-round. It also mimics more of the natural environment plants expect in their development.

Taste the Difference

Because our greenhouse is not heated, we focus on cool, air-loving plants in the winter. Specialty microgreens do really well and pack a heavy punch of nutrients. These include mizuna, purple mustards, chrysanthemum and cutting celery. Other produce that grows well and offers vibrant flavor are our Asian greens, baby turnips and beets, and head lettuces. Winter temperatures actually stimulate sugar production in some root veggies, so we end up with incredibly sweet, memorable flavors. All of the produce coming out of the greenhouse is dense with nutrients and never subjected to synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

Even if you’re not a gardener at heart, most guests appreciate the health benefits of eating fresh produce and herbs. The intense flavors of fresh farm to table produce are our award winning chef’s dream when it comes to menu planning and meal preparation.

Greenhouse Garden Anywhere

Anyone can use an unheated greenhouse to grow greens during winter, start warm season annuals, propagate landscape perennials, and shelter frost-tender plants through the winter chill. Besides greens like spinach and lettuce, you can grow cold-tolerant veggies such as cabbage and broccoli in your unheated greenhouse. Celery, peas, and brussels sprouts are also excellent cool-weather veggie choices for unheated greenhouse growing. Herbs like oregano, fennel, chives, and parsley do well and add pizzazz to your home cooked meals. If you like flowers, try growing calendula, chrysanthemum, and pansy. These varieties will bloom through the winter and make lovely fresh centerpieces to boost the mood indoors.

It’s fun to see guests’ faces when they walk through our greenhouse during winter. Their senses light up as they start to connect the dots about the meals they’re tasting in our restaurant and how the food chain all comes together. We’re able to prepare unique, flavorful meals for guests that are not only memorable, but steeped in vitamins and minerals the body craves.

Stories from The Lodge at Blue Sky