Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove incorrect information about the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative System for Crops.
The grass will soon be greener on the Sterling side as the staff at the Sterling Community Center get ready to unveil a new greenhouse.
The greenhouse, constructed last summer, is a large dome built to withstand heavy snowfall and wind. It was donated to the center by James Freed, chief operating officer of Arctic Dome Greenhouses. Freed has been contracted to build several of his greenhouses across the peninsula.
The convex structure has no corners and is covered with translucent material, and can therefore absorb as much sunlight as possible from many given directions, according to the business’s website.
Freed said the team at Arctic Dome Greenhouses tries to promote growing crops and plants among Alaska communities, especially schools. Getting kids more interested in playing outdoors is a major goal, he said.
“Our whole mission is getting more communities to start growing,” Freed said.
Hanson said one tree had to be cut down to make room for the structure at the edge of the center’s parking lot, but that the space was otherwise unaltered.
“We were told about what kind of space they had available and so we made one to fit,” Freed said.
Now, Hanson said staff at the center are ready to get the greenhouse going and operational.
The center is calling for residents from the Sterling area to sit on a committee that will meet and deicide how best to use the greenhouse going forward.
“We’ve just got to kind of decide what we’re going to do with it,” Hanson said.
Members of the committee will consider what to grow in the dome, what kind of plant beds to use, whether the greenhouse will be for members of the center or the greater community and how to go about funding it, Hanson said.
“They’re looking at a blank piece of paper,” she said.
Hanson said she would like the greenhouse to benefit the community, whether through the center’s members or general residents.
Staff at the Sterling Community Center would like the committee to meet in the next few months so that the greenhouse can be used starting this spring, Hanson said.
She said those who are passionate about gardening and agriculture and are willing to work with other community members on the project are encouraged to join the committee.
“Our volunteers are the heartbeat (of the center),” Hanson said.
For more information about the greenhouse project, call the Sterling Community Center at (907) 262-7224.