Junk Greenhouse

-Submitted by Shane Smith; Cheyenne, WY:

Greenhouse built in 1979“This photo was taken in around 1979. It was one of the first home solar greenhouses constructed in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was built by my former neighbor, Isador Lopez, who was in his 70′s at the time. He had long dreamed of having his own greenhouse. After seeing how simple my solar heated greenhouse functioned, he seemed empowered. One day after cleaning out his garage and yard, Isador went to the dump with his truck full of trash and junk. After he unloaded his truck, he saw old sheets of plywood, pieces of 2×4′s, cushions from couches (for insulation), along with other potential building materials. Keen on getting himself a solar heated greenhouse he loaded his truck up with the stuff.

When he arrived in the driveway with his truck still full of what appeared to be more junk, his wife came running out and yelled “I thought I told you to get rid of that stuff!” Isador replied, “Ma, I found some better junk, I’m gonna build me a greenhouse on the garage and grow tomatoes!”

With that, he constructed his greenhouse in only 2 days. His greenhouse grew plants right through the 20 and 30 below winter temperatures. It even heated his garage. The total cost of the greenhouse was $30.00 (1979 dollars). Even his wife was thrilled.

Greenhouse built in 1979

One night that same year, I was driving home from work and I did a “California stop” at a stop sign. A patrolman who happened to witness me, pulled me over. For some reason he took a severe dislike of me. He made me follow him down to the station and insisted that I pay my fine or put up bail. Not having any money in my pocket, I found myself sitting in jail. I was new to Cheyenne and Isador was one of the few people I had come to know. He put up the 20 bucks to get me out of jail. From that day on he liked to call me “jailbird.”

Isador loved his greenhouse and loved to garden. He proved to me that the technology of growing food year-round can be accessible to anyone with the will to make it happen.

Centuries ago, early greenhouses only belonged to the rich and people of nobility. Now if you want a greenhouse, you don’t need a lot of money, special technical expertise or be a king (or queen). You can do it one way or another!”

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