Zoccalo Organics - Passive Four Season Greenhouse!

David Messer Guelph Smart City Office • 16 November 2020
Construct a passive four-season greenhouse at Zoccalo Organics in Hillsburgh, ON.

Project Idea

I believe what is needed in the agriculture sector today are relatively low cost, efficient, ecologically sound and profitable solutions to growing nutritious food in our climate!

This greenhouse would be a perfect showcase. A passive solar greenhouse maximizes solar energy at any time of the year. Coupled with good design in combination with some other technology, we could create a system that would rely on little, to no fossil fuel inputs to grow food through the winter. By storing excess heat under ground during the day in a "climate battery" one can bring that warm air back up to heat the growing space at night time. This system would be automated to control the climate and irrigation needs.

I believe our farm is an ideal site for such a greenhouse because of our current production skillsets and need for more winter revenue. We have always been committed to education of new growers and will continue to find ways to demonstrate the best possible growing methods for our area.


The greenhouse would be located at Zocalo Organics in Hillsburgh, ON. We are a 30 minute drive east of Guelph. We are in an ideal location to be able to build, test, and showcase this type of structure and what it is capable of doing, and to share that with new farmers, students, environmental groups etc. Furthermore, this model of greenhouse could be scaled down to a community garden scale or urban farm setting.

Community Impact

I believe small scale, ecological farms present many low cost, elegant, understated solutions to many of our global environmental problems. We desperately need examples of farms that are accessible to new growers, regenerative to the land base they operate on and are profitable for those who are working that land.

This project would be a tangible example that would show case a simple design and appropriate technology that could help us grow high quality, nutritious food for our community powered by renewable energy.

Our farm is an important link to our urban consumers who want to know they are supporting the best possible ecological practices that are safe for the planet and also for their families to consume.

We have been involved with many school tours, interviews, webinars, workshops and with training new farmers through the CRAFT network over the years. We will keep learning what is possible, and keep sharing that knowledge with the next generation of farmers! Thank you!