Lem Tingley, Owner and Chief Growing Officer (CGO) of Growing Spaces, shares the magic and resilience of the robust geodesic greenhouse grow domes that his company manufactures in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. In this episode, Lem leads us on a tour of several domes: at the Pagosa High School with Principal Sean O’Donnell, at the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership in downtown Pagosa Springs, and at the Growing Spaces headquarters where several domes of different sizes are on display.
Each dome is a unique sanctuary – capable of maintaining warmer, sub-tropical conditions during cold winter months – an important aspect of sustainability and food security in many regions. Seven features make the Growing Spaces domes unique: its geodesic shape (can withstand extreme wind loads, snow loads, hail, etc.), polycarbonate panels (strong and durable), above-ground pond (thermal mass for temperature regulation), north wall insulation, automatic vents (powered by temperature-sensitive beeswax-filled pistons!), under-soil climate control, and an insulated foundation wall.
Lem discusses how Growing Spaces donates profits back to the community, and supports several urban and low-income food production projects around the United States, including with the Navajo Nation, the Mattersville Vets, and the Urban Growers Collective in Chicago. Growing Spaces offers Garden Grants for schools, communities, and non-profits (growingspaces.com/gardening-grants), and in partnership with the Y on Earth Community, Growing Spaces is offering a 5% discount on domes, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Y on Earth Community to support it’s community mobilization work (growingspaces.com/yonearth).
Lem grew up outside Boston, MA, visited Colorado every year as a kid for ski vacations, and fell in love with the Rocky Mountain west at an early age. He attended the University of Colorado – Boulder and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, which led to working for the last 25 years in manufacturing, both in Colorado and off-shore. Lem and his wife Liz live in Golden, CO with their three teenage boys.
He was laid-off from his previous job, and felt like it was a good opportunity to either start or purchase a company in the sustainable technology field. Having heard of Growing Spaces through his brother-in-law, and having learned that the founder-owners were retiring and selling the business, Lem and Liz jumped on it. They immediately visited Pagosa Springs to meet Udgar and Puja Parsons, the founders of Growing Spaces, and fell in love with them and what they had created in this small town in Colorado. Lem and his wife purchased Growing Spaces in April, 2018, and are now expanding the company organically.