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Passive Solar Greenhouse Growing

Rocky Mountain Gardening Elective

Ever feel like you don’t know what you are doing in your greenhouse? Or perhaps you have plans to build one and what then? Penn Parmenter has been growing food in her passive solar sustainable greenhouse for 12 years with the help of her husband Cord, who has been documenting the success of his 4 year-old sustainable greenhouse.

This class will help take some of the mystery out of something that should be so easy and yet can seem so hard. Matching appropriate plants to the microclimates within the greenhouse is crucial. Often the plants are the best teachers in the greenhouse and together we will learn how to work within the unique eco-system your greenhouse is.

Favorite foods, herbs and flowers will be discussed as well as forcing plants for seed production, over wintering potted plants and succession planting for a year round harvest.

The Parmenter’s grow organically and will share their organic answers for keeping the greenhouse under control from bugs and disease. Preventative methods as well as what to do when you’ve lost control will be addressed.

Penn and Cord both have busy lives, three kids and a business and yet they still manage to grow food year round in their greenhouses. When life gets in the way and you’re thinking of turning your greenhouse into a shed, don’t despair – there are answers for successful greenhouse growing.

Let’s step up production in your greenhouse - and you enjoy the benefits.


$26 member, $31 non-member


Instructors: Penn and Cord Parmenter



See also "Sustainable Greenhouse Design" - offered on the same weekend!



Saving and Adapting Seed to High Altitudes (5,000-10,000 feet)

Rocky Mountain Gardening Elective

Historically amateur gardeners and farmers have been responsible for the vast bio-diversity we’ve enjoyed over the decades by saving and developing their own food seed.

As that bio-diversity is being lost, the time has come for us to learn how to save our own seed again. This is not only economical but since seed has a built in self-replicating program and an ability to adapt to the surrounding environment, saving seed is crucial to the movement toward self-sufficiency and sustainability. Colorado is particularly full of microclimates, so adapting seed to your unique climate is especially helpful for the wild and varied extremes we all endure.

We will cover vegetables, herbs and flowers and take a look at the world seed situation and what you can do about it in your own backyard. This class is intended to inspire you to make full use of the abundance given to you from your own garden.

We will discuss Seed Lending Libraries, Seed Banks, Living Seed Banks, Seed Swaps and how to take care of the seed you save. We will demonstrate seed saving techniques in both wet and dry methods.

Rejoin an ancient ritual that is still in our DNA and our memories – our grandparents saved seeds and theirs before them. Re-connecting to this most important part of gardening is an incredibly rewarding experience – especially when you are helping to develop stronger, more vibrant seed. This class applies to all elevations.


$26 member, $31 non-member


Instructors: Penn and Cord Parmenter



Seed, Soil, Sun and Water


Seed, soil, sun and water are all you need to grow food in the Wild-West! Great news - it still works! In fact, the earth and all its systems already work perfectly and just by combining seed, soil, sun and water you can witness miracles.

If the Rockies can grow a giant Ponderosa out of a rock at 10,000 ft., we can certainly grow food in soil. This class focuses on what already works, how to work with what you have and to inspire you again in nature’s ability to feed you.


We’ve been told for years that we cannot grow food in the Rockies but we know that’s not true! Let’s get back to basics and garden the way our grandparents did – using Earth’s amazing resources to produce clean, vibrant, mountain-grown food!

This class will cover each topic in depth with Colorado’s challenges in mind. Saving seed, building soil, managing intense sun and conserving water all can give you remarkable results here in the west.

Penn and Cord Parmenter bring 21 years of experience to this approach and are passionate about emulating nature and chemical-free growing. Everyone can grow clean food and we intend to inspire you to look again, at what is all of ours to enjoy – the abundance and sustenance of nature!


$28 member, $32 non-member



Instructors: Penn and Cord Parmenter.

Penn and Cord Parmenter are high altitude food growers. They live in the Wet Mountains in South Central Colorado and they apply a multitude of techniques to overcome the challenges of the high country. Their totally sustainable greenhouse provides food year round for them and their three boys.



Seven Principles of Water-Smart Gardening

Rocky Mountain Gardening Required Course Group I

Gardening remains high and dry in the Rocky Mountain region! Water-Smart Gardening is an environmentally friendly way to create a beautiful home landscape that will thrive under low water conditions. Join this class to learn the principles of Water-Smart Gardening and some of the many plants that you can incorporate into your yard.


$55 member, $62 non-member.


Instructor: David Winger

Sustainable Greenhouse Design

Rocky Mountain Gardening Elective

Have you ever wondered if it could be done? Can you create a greenhouse that needs NO SUPPLEMENTAL HEATING OR COOLING YEAR ROUND? The answer is yes!!

No more over-heating and freezing as is common in all-glazed greenhouses – this design balances the use of thermal mass, glazing, insulation and sun angles to achieve the stabilization needed in our extreme climate without the use of fossil fuels.

You will learn how to design a sustainable greenhouse from the ground up using salvaged or new materials, or in combination to achieve the look and performance you want. You can also use these techniques to improve an existing greenhouse.

This class is a comprehensive look at how passive solar greenhouses work, it includes how to orient the building, basic principles of passive solar design including the use of stored water as thermal mass, simple math formulas to help guide you with your design, a materials list and drawings and calculations for a 13’X15’ greenhouse.

In 2000, the Parmenter’s built their first greenhouse out of 90% recycled materials on top of an 8,120 ft. decomposed granite mountain. Since then, they have designed and built many more and are ready to share what they’ve learned about state-of-the-art materials and cost-saving strategies.

C’mon, walk through the snow into your warm, inviting greenhouse and lose yourself in a year round garden sanctuary.


$150 member, $160 non-member


Instructors: Penn and Cord Parmenter.

Penn and Cord Parmenter are high altitude food growers. They live in the Wet Mountains in South Central Colorado and they apply a multitude of techniques to overcome the challenges of the high country. Their totally sustainable greenhouse provides food year round for them and their three boys.



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