Arcosanti - An Urban Laboratory in the Arizona Desert.


April 09. 2012

ARCOSANTI SOLAR GREENHOUSE is part of the S.O.D. UNIT [Soleri Office and Drafting Unit]. It is the south-east cornerstone of the East Crescent Complex at Arcosanti. Constructed during 1978-79, it houses administrative offices, the planning and drafting department, and Paolo Soleri’s apartment at Arcosanti. There is also a large meeting room and the greenhouse.

[photo: Jeff Stein]

Here we are at the east side of the SOD Unit. The agriculture crew, Jenna Dern, Dan Reiff and workshop participant Sean Mohundro, carry soil and worm casting into the SOD greenhouse.

[photo: Chihiro Saito]

Worm castings are added to prepared planter beds.

[photo: Chihiro Saito]

Seedlings of peppers, basil and tomato, started in the greenhouse ...

[photo: Chihiro Saito]

... have been transplanted into the new planter beds.

[photo: Chihiro Saito]

December 05. 2011

Today's early morning visit to the Hightunnel Greenhouse revealed a surprising collection of crops this late in the season.


Despite near freezing outside, the inside of the greenhouse was temperate without any heating arrangements other than the sun. And the last few days have been mostly overcast with quite a bit of rain and sprinkles of snow.

There are still organic tomatoes, salad greens and chard, as well as parsley, chamomile, four different kinds of basil, nasturtiums. Here volunteer Carmen Thennes is harvesting crops for the Arcosanti cafe as well for the residents of Arcosanti. 

Public Relations Andrea Speed is picking tomatos.

Some seedlings are coming along in a halfpipe suspended along the south wall of the greenhouse.

September 24. 2010

Throughout the hot Arizona summer the High Tunnel Greenhouse was covered with a lightweight 'Aluminet" shade cloth.

Nate Hodgson is taking care of planting and harvesting, as well as daily chores in the greenhouse. Most of all Nate has put together the ventilation and watering system. Here he reads up on greenhouse lore.

Harvest from the greenhouse has been a wonderful addition to the public cafe menu, as well to for the residents of Arcosanti. Organic tomatoes, salad greens, chard, melons, cucumbers and basil have been the main items.

As fall has started the shade cloth is removed and will be stored until the beginning of summer next year. Here we see Nate in the back, Dave Tollas and workshop participant Matt Cornwell. Matt has been working with Nate throughout his workshop to learn all about this greenhouse.

April 30. 2010

? We last reported on the High Tunnel greenhouse on March 3. 2010. with the planting of first crops.
This photo was taken on 3/15 and shows small heads of lettuce as well as tomato plants.

? The crew assembled and put in place a 2x4 internal framework to strengthen both ends of the greenhouse.

? There are zippered entrances on either end of this High Tunnel greenhouse.

? Here we can see the crops steadily maturing.

? At this time four kinds of lettuce are raised, Buttercrunch, Romaine, Mesclun Mix and Red Leaf. Over 30 pounds of lettuce have been harvested so far.
There are crops of Swiss Chard, Spinach, Carrots, Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash, Amy Melons, Snow Peas, Dill, Basil.
The crew also planted Marigolds and Borage for pest resistence.

? The greenhouse report continues from Monday: the first crops were planted yesterday!

In this view, Nadia Begin inspects the recently installed membrane from the greenhouse interior. Three planter boxes are prepared currently. A fourth planting area will be constructed at the ground level on the far left.

? With the seeds and seedlings spread out and a plan drawn up, the planting team, lead by Bambú Ransom, got dirty. Our soil is comprised of: one part silt, two parts compost, with added peat moss in the top layer.

? Workshop participants Cara Pirello, Astrid Sonne, Daniel Reiff, and Kirsten Lynge planted the chard and lettuce area with a rotation for timed harvest in mind.

Jeff Buderer planted dill seeds among strawberry seedlings.

? In the future crop are cucumbers, carrots, summer squash, and more. Tomatoes were planted with marigolds to help prevent leafhoppers and borage to stop tomato worm. Many small loquat trees are currently stored in the greenhouse, but will be soon planted around site.

? Since our last report on February 22, our new greenhouse was prepared for planting. In just the past week, the planter boxes were finished, the soil mixed, and the membrane installed.

After installing one end panel of the membrane, the construction team carried the next panel into position. Planter box work continued as well.

? The membrane, in specific, is a Polymax 5.2 oz clear woven greenhouse covering with added UV inhibitors. The end panels feature zippered openings for access.

? The frame required a few final touches before full enclosure and the third planter box is almost complete in this photo.

? Last Thursday, the largest section of the membrane was installed. Here the team (front to back: Nadia Begin, Cara Pirello, Jeff Buderer, Astrid Sonne, and Kirsten Lynge) unrolls and secures the membrane.

Workshop participants Kirsten Lynge and Otto Vervaet secure one corner. In the future, these long sides will roll up to allow for passive ventilation.

? Now the greenhouse is prepared for the 2010 growing season. On Wednesday, we will continue our report on the greenhouse and details about our first crops.

February 22. 2010

? Continuing our report on the greenhouse construction: A lot of progress has been made since our last report in December, with the help of the new workshop and construction team.

The frame is entirely in place, as shown in this first photo.

Next, work began on the large planter boxes.

? Leaving only one end of each planter box open, the team can easily fill the boxes with wheelbarrows. They are transferring aggregate, soil, and compost from the truck to the planters.

? Pictured here is a closer view of that process as well as the workshop members involved.

? Aggregate was collected near the greenhouse to line the bottom for drainage.

Processed compost was sifted and collected from the agriculture department.

? The compost will be mixed with soil and added to the planters in preparation for growing food in the greenhouse. But first, the boxes were lined with plastic. In the near future we will report on the greenhouse membrane installation and further progress.

November 18. 2009

? This report continues from 11/16/09.
Last week, we prepared and leveled the pad where we have decided to build the greenhouse. Here we see the caterpillar dumping dirt to fill in the low lying construction site, which will raise the level of the building foundation in order to reduce the chances of flooding.

? The greenhouse will be constructed just south of the pool where La Loggia was/is planned to be.

? Here we see the construction crew and the caterpillar smoothing and leveling the dirt after being poured onto the foundation. While the crew prepares and levels the pad, we will also begin preparing a soil mix for the raised planting beds that we will use in the greenhouse.
We will continue to report on the construction progress next week.

November 16. 2009

? It has been a busy few months and we have some great news! We purchased a green house kit from a company called Clear Span, a manufacturer of fabric structures and greenhouses out of Iowa. It arrived at Arcosanti on 11/02/09.

? This 20' wide x 48' long greenhouse, more specifically called a "High Tunnel," is an unheated, plastic-covered structure that provides an intermediate level of environmental protection and control compared to open field conditions and heated greenhouses.

? We have been putting together a presentation of greenhouse systems research to educate ourselves, the crew and the Workshop participants.

? We are excited to begin the process of growing food and experiencing the life of a greenhouse closer to the "center of town". We plan to use this greenhouse as a prototype for heat collection as it will be connected to the existing and in construction portion of the Heat Duct Tunnel and we will use rainwater collected from the building above for watering the crops. As a prototype, this greenhouse will help us perfect the design for the energy apron.

February 16. 2004


The wall for the fish tank of the aquaponic system in the camp green house is poured. The construction crew has moved the concrete mixer and raw materials for concrete to the camp green house area.
[Photo & Text: aa]


Each batch in the concrete mixer makes 4 wheel barrels of concrete each time.
[Photo & Text: aa]


The wall for the fish tank of the aquaponic system in the camp green house is poured. The construction crew has moved the concrete mixer and raw materials for concrete to the camp green house area.
[Photo & Text: aa]


Each batch in the concrete mixer makes 4 wheel barrels of concrete each time.
[Photo & Text: aa]


February workshoppers work hard, shoveling sand and gravel for concrete. Sean Sciubba (left), Anita Punja and Haley Byrd (right).
[Photo & Text: aa]


The concrete is poured into the formed wall.
[Photo & Text: aa]


Construction crewmembers and agriculture crewmembers work together in the limited space of the green house. Concrete is shoveled out of the wheel barrel in to the narrow frame.
[Photo & Text: aa]