Building a Greenhouse

This is a project that I managed while I was the Farm Manager at the Farmhouse. I got a small grant to build a greenhouse, so the first thing I did was reach out to UC Davis, to consult the experts. I met with 2 UC Davis affiliates, both who were very experienced in greenhouses, and went through a design process.

After discussing the various options, we decided to renovate the back barn ‘overhang’, which looked like this:


Back barn ‘overhang’. 16′ tall at its tallest point, 40′ long, main structure wood and tin

After assessing the main structure, we developed a plan to retrofit this overhang into a combination greenhouse and shade-house (or ‘lath house’).

At about the same time, I had gotten connected to an organization called the Northern California Construction Training, which provides construction training for people coming out of prison, and others interested in learning the trade. They agreed to bring their crew out to the farm to do all of the labor to build the greenhouse, what an amazing contribution!

We scheduled a ‘Demolition Day’ as phase one of the project.


So by the end of that initial workday, all of the tin had been removed from the 2 walls, revealing the framing underneath. We discovered that some of the long, 20′ pieces of lumber were cracked, so I added 2 20′ 2x8s to the list of framing lumber to order.

To ensure good drainage, we decided to put a 2″ layer of gravel at the bottom of the greenhouse, so that was the next step. I called a landscaping friend, Doug, who volunteered to bring his tractor out, to scrape and grade the ground, and then to spread the gravel. I made sure that the gravel was delivered (from CL Smith trucking company in Woodland) before Doung came.

Do you remember that thing in the playground where you could sit at a little seat and scoop up sand with a little bucket and then drop it? I loved playing with that as a kid, so this was my adult version of getting to do that!

After the ground was scraped, the old dirt and rocks and concrete chunks removed, and the new gravel was put down, it started to look really nice, like it was coming together!

Here is a picture of the pile of lumber that was delivered: this would become the new framing of the 3 walls we would build as the greenhouse/ shade-house combination (the wood stacked against the wall is the old wood from the wall we had taken down, pretty rotted/ full of nails, but still decent)


Next came the first building day



Then, after these walls were all put up, it was time for the polycarbon!

It was a hassle to get all the huge pieces delivered from Greenhouse Megastore, because they were too big to fit onto the roof of my truck, so big thank you to them for volunteering to bring it themselves (and the fasteners) directly to the Farmhouse!

Now the fun really began, as we began to attach the polycarbon to the framing..

After the polycarbon was attached on the two walls, as well as the inner 3rd wall, it was time to begin putting up the 1x4s to become the shadehouse:


Finally, when the polycarbon and 1x4s were all installed, it was time to build the doors, and hang them.

Here is the crew inside the finished greenhouse


It was so amazing to be a part of this project, and there is so much more to it that is not pictured here, but it was a collaboration of many different people and groups, and I think it turned out very well!

Almost as soon as the greenhouse was built, we began starting seedlings in it, which were transplanted in the field right next to the greenhouse..