The GreenBarn

Author Photo
By Gina Gaines

After dozens of modifications, I’ve finally settled on a floor plan for my new greenhouse-barn combination. Because space is limited, I wanted to make sure I utilized every square inch to its fullest potential. I’ve been studying the needs of all the livestock and plants that may eventually inhabit this structure and hopefully have arrived at the best way to incorporate all of their needs into one building. I plan to build my “green-barn” in three phases so that I can ease myself into the care and maintenance of each species and make sure I am ready and able to commit the time necessary to help them thrive. I currently work full time as a nurse. And some of the livestock, such as goats, will need more consistent care than I have time to give right now. Sometime in the future, I plan to ease out of full-time work into a part-time position, before eventually enjoying my little burbstead paradise full time.

The first phase will contain a small passive solar greenhouse for seed starting and trying out a few tropical varieties to make sure the phase two greenhouse side doesn’t need any alterations. The other half of the green-barn will house two or three lightweight ducks and three or four hens. The floor of the greenhouse portion will be slightly sloped toward the east wall with a drainage pipe leading outside, much the same as you see in shower stalls or public restrooms to direct water drainage. The livestock door will be permanent and large enough to accommodate the largest potential future occupant. The people door can be moved with each addition.

Phases two and three, if and when time and money allow, will include a tilapia tank with an aquaponics bed for growing vegetables year round. The barn area will be doubled and possibly tripled, allowing for more poultry or rabbits or miniature goats. In phases 2 & 3, the potential rabbit hutches will be high enough off the ground for poultry and/or goats to walk under, so the floor space will be able to serve double duty. And portions of that under-hutch floor space will most likely contain worm bins to grow food for fish and fowl and, of course, for making that wonderful black-gold for the garden.

Our lot is currently about one third of an acre. Our neighbor on the north side is willing to sell a small strip of the lot that joins our property. The additional 1/3-ish acre will determine how large our little greenhouse/barn will eventually become. I love dreaming about the possibilities while realistically working out the details. And sharing adventures with other small-scale homesteaders is great inspiration!

Published on Jan 27, 2014