Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel have proven that growing fresh food in very cold climates is far from impossible. Their Garden Goddess CSA, provides fresh vegetables weekly for 18 families from October to April on Minnesota's famously harsh prairie, running up a propane bill of only $75 for the year.
Their 18x22 greenhouse uses simple, effective passive solar design components to maximize the sun's energy. Hanging planters of greens maximize the space available for growing produce. Minimal back-up heat from a propane furnace (costing less than $75 a year in fuel costs) ensures that the air temperature doesn't drop below 40 F. Soil temperatures in the raised beds do not drop below 50 degrees and are usually above 50 F.
This basic structure, with modifications, can be used for a number of applications. Imagine a greenhouse like this on the roof of a restaurant. Imagine it attached to a school. Imagine it as part of a community garden. Imagine it in your own yard. Imagine fresh broccoli, salad greens and more in January and February. It can be done! It is being done! You can do it, too.
Carol and Chuck are committed to helping others develop healthy, sustainable local foods systems. They regularly speak and present workshops on their methods, and have other books in the works. They also help to promote other local growers, assist urban farmers, and spread information for food self-sufficiency.