Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Employees: 12-14 full time (increases to 24 during busy seasons)
When thinking of manufacturing, boutique businesses and sustainable greenhouses may not come to mind.
Growing Spaces is out to change that, and the world, one microcosm at a time.
“We are a boutique manufacturing company,” says Puja Dhyan Parsons, co-founder of Growing Spaces (Michael Udgar Parsons her husband and co-founder). “We hand craft each Growing Dome in a customized response to the purposes of the client and their specific climate. We also emphasize relationship in our company, both within and without, because we are teaching and supporting a quality life-style built on sustainability and holistic values.”
In 2010, Growing Spaces was named one of fifty Colorado companies to watch by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. “We had a dip in number this last year, which was a surprise,” says Parsons. “But until then we were growing at 15%-30% a year over the past 5 years. I am expecting us to grow at 15% again this next year.”
The Growing Dome Greenhouse was developed for the harsh Rocky Mountain climate, and produces fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs year round, without the need for heating.
“We’re mountain people, who have been solving the problem of a 90-day growing season since our inception in 1989,” says Parsons. “We’re married to the outdoor lifestyle of the Rocky Mountains and this is the source of joy and gratitude in what we live and build here. We’ll also be adding geothermal heat to our design, as Pagosa puts up its first of three 42 ft. Growing Domes at the center of Town.”
The domes are available in several sizes and are customizable. “Our domes come in six sizes,” says Parsons. “The thing that makes us unusual is a combination of 7 features that provide the system for heating and cooling.”
About 80 percent of the market for Growing Spaces is the backyard gardener, or hobby greenhouse gardener. “The other 20 percent is a combination of schools, institutions, hospitals, yoga studios and community gardens,” says Parsons.
The domes come in kits with instructions for assembly, and the option to have a professional walk the consumer through the installation process. Likewise, the role of educating the gardener is crucial to Parsons. “We provide a lot of education upfront and help with that learning curve,” says Parsons. “It really takes about five years to learn how to garden, and I am still learning after 25 years.”
Challenges: “One of our biggest challenges is the seasonality of our business,” says Puja. “The other one is builder regulations based on square buildings, and sometimes a dome shape can be a challenge for the regulators.”
Opportunities: “We are so much about the love of the planet and love of people,” says Parsons. “There is a spirit of people bonding together to take care of each other and we are a part of that. We see ourselves as global citizens on a small microcosmic level. We are active in our southwest Colorado region.
Needs: “What we really need is for the regulators of towns and schools to understand the strength of the geodesic dome structure, and allow our history of success and safety in over 100 schools and many communities to warrant a passing of building permits,” says Parsons.