Numerous articles in this guide describe the many features and qualities for which Pagosa is known. Just flipping through the pages here gives the reader a clear idea of the riches this area offers.
Therefore, it’s appropriate to say that one of the most popular eco-friendly greenhouses in the U.S. — The Growing Dome® — is manufactured right here in Pagosa Springs, fulfilling the dreams of Growing Spaces founder Udgar Parsons.
Since 1989, Udgar and his wife, Puja, have owned and operated Growing Spaces, a company dedicated to sustainable living, green manufacturing and providing affordable, environmentally friendly geodesic domes for gardening enthusiasts at all levels.
So why Pagosa Springs?
“I had no intention of moving here,” Udgar says one Saturday morning over breakfast at The Rose. “We came here in the spring of ’95 and never left. I basically fell in love with Pagosa.”
A U.K. native, Udgar left his practice as a dentist and orthodontist for a life of farming and self-sustainability on the northwest coast of Scotland. From there, Udgar moved his family to participate in several alternative community experiments throughout the world, coming to the U.S. to help establish a sustainable eco-community in Oregon then moving to Aspen to participate in John Denver’s Windstar Foundation and the manufacturing of geodesic Biodomes.
It was at that point Udgar became determined to develop a more affordable, and more energy efficient, scaled-back greenhouse. Thus, The Growing Dome® was born.
“I was on fire with the idea of growing year round in the Rocky Mountains, yet to make it affordable,” Udgar says.
The idea certainly caught fire: currently, there are 85 Growing Spaces domes in Pagosa Country, with many more installed in 46 states and 11 countries. In fact, one of Udgar’s domes is installed at Toyota’s Georgetown, Ky., campus and is being used as a demonstration project for natural gardening with minimal energy use. Closer to home, another large-scale project intends to use as many as five Growing Spaces domes to demonstrate not only the viability of using Pagosa’s abundant geothermal resources to facilitate year-round Rocky Mountain gardening but how a community can use those resources to build self-sustainability.
“I’m really excited by the Geothermal Greenhouse project,” Udgar says.
It is that overall mindset of community vision and mutual respect that informs the philosophy of Growing Spaces — and it’s owner.
“We reinvest in the community and reinvest in the people; our people are our most valuable resource.”
That vision is extended to how Udgar conducts business, both locally and universally, and how the company interacts on a global scale. “Manufacturing doesn’t have to be polluting,” Udgar says, “Our company is tied into the LPEA (La Plata Electric Association) grid and we’re selling energy back … we’re running the meter backwards today.
Getting back to the question, “Why Pagosa Springs?” Udgar is clear that Pagosa Country is ideal for his business — and his peace of mind.
“This is definitely the right place to run a small business,” he says. “The more small businesses that can be here, the healthier the economy can be.”
And with Pagosa’s incomparable beauty, healthy environment and marvelous people, Udgar concedes that there is no place he’d rather be to run Growing Spaces, his labor of love, no matter the incentive.
“I’ve never done it for the money,” he says. “I’ve just been inspired.”