670: Puja and Udgar Parsons on Growing a Green Business.
Creating a sustainable greenhouse business in the 90’s.
This week we have a very special series of five daily episodes of the Urban Farm Podcast sharing the work of Growing Spaces, a company whose vision is to provide year-round growing solutions for your own food, no matter the weather. We start the week by hearing from the founders of the company, then we have three episodes from people just like you that are using Growing Domes to grow food for their community, and we wrap up the week hearing the vision of the new owners. We really encourage you to listen to this incredible content, then check out their website at GrowingSpaces.com/urbanfarm.
In This Podcast:
In the first of five episodes, we hear from Puja and Udgar Parsons, the founders of Growing Spaces. They give us a peek inside their geodesic dome greenhouse kits, detailing how they work and describing the features that improve upon a traditional greenhouse. Udgar explains how the dome’s shape is an extension of his permaculture principles and love of nature, and Puja inspires us with stories of their determination to share the joy of healthy, garden-fresh vegetables year-round with as many people as possible, despite the growing pains they experienced as entrepreneurs.
Udgar Parsons was born and bred in Yorkshire England in the early forties while Puja Parsons was raised in Burbank, California. Udgar left a career in dentistry and orthodontics to raise a family on a farm in the North of Scotland. There, he learned to live off the grid and lead a healthy lifestyle. Puja’s degrees are in Psychology, Philosophy, and Fine Arts, and that led her to create several non-profits for the promotion of holistic health and spiritual growth.
After traveling the world together and participating in several intentional communities, Udgar decided to become an American citizen and they moved to Colorado. There, in the Roaring Fork Valley, he was inspired by the vision of Buckminster Fuller and John Denver at Windstar, where he experimented with Bucky’s Biodomes.
In 1989 they founded their own company called Growing Spaces, after developing Udgar’s own greenhouse model called the Growing Dome. Puja held that businesses could offer solutions for environmental degradation and promote nutrition and natural medicine based on fresh food and organic gardening for clients and a socially responsible business culture. Together they grew the company as social entrepreneurs for 29 years before passing it on to Liz and Lem Tingley in 2018.
This is episode 1 of a 5 part series. Don’t miss episode 2 tomorrow!
Listen in and learn about:
- Feeling there is more to life than being a dentist
- “It’s more than a greenhouse. It’s a way of life.”
- Doing more with less
- Increasing health by changing the diet
- Cleverly designing the domes to avoid waste
- Capturing and storing the daytime heat, insulating against the cold at night
- Benefiting from the influences of Bucky Fuller and John Denver
- Finding inspiration working at Windstar
- Transforming a 64,000 acre overgrazed sheep farm into an oasis within 5 years
- “Growing” on all levels
- Encouraging people to grow and change personally
- Remaining true to personal principles while starting and running the business…and still succeeding!
- Getting it right, right from the start in 1989
- Revolutionizing the greenhouse industry without the greenhouse industry knowing it
- Transitioning to the 2nd stage of business – passing it on to a 3rd generation
As well as:
Her failure – Being seduced by an investor that ended up letting them down
His success – Taking an idea and making it a reality by just following his heart
Her drive – Reverence for life
His drive – Evolving and growing and always learning so he can help the planet and mankind
His advice – “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
Her advice – “There is no enemy.”
Udgar’s Book recommendations:
The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally
How to reach Puja and Udgar:
Join us tomorrow for the second episode in this special series, where we talk to Eric Andrews who is using a Growing Spaces growing dome to grow food in community gardens in Detroit.
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