First of all, the 3-acre southeast
portion of the Solviva
Farm that was for sale has been sold.
Solviva greenhouse is now gone. People ask "why?"
So here I offer the updated information that is included in
the second printing of the SOLVIVA book.
on the Solviva Greenhouse
happened to the Solviva Farm?
And why is Solviva Salad (still proclaimed by past clients as
the best salad greens ever) no longer available?
Well, here is the story: even before the end of it's
first year, the Solviva greenhouse design had already proven
itself to be a roaring success, and it was beginning to attract
attention. The more productive it became the more famous it
became, as the news was reported on TV, radio, in magazines
and newspapers all across the US and around the world. Thousands
of inquires poured in via mail and telephone. Hundreds of visitors
came from near and far, wanting to see for themselves. Many
wanted to stay, for a couple of days or weeks, to learn as much
My primary mission was to prove that a greenhouse
like this was capable of producing extraordinarily high yields
of the highest quality food, continuously through the coldest
winter without any heating fuel, and without any cooling fans
in summer, and without any toxic pesticides ever. Once that
mission was successfully proven, my next task was to pass this
information on to others as effectively as possible. Thus, while
working days in the greenhouse, at night I wrote reports and
articles, and drew up all the designs in minute detail. And
I responded to all the thousands of inquiries, and hand-assembled
and mailed hundreds of information packets. And I went wherever
I was invited, near and far, to give slide presentations, lectures,
workshops or consulting. It soon became apparent that I had
to write a book in order to lay out the problems and the solutions
as clearly as possible.
And with all this, plus skin problems on my hands, and back
problems, plus training and supervising employees, and doing
payrolls and accounting, and
.well, after eight
or so years, it became obvious that I had to choose between
concentrating on the Solviva Salad business or passing on the
information about Solviva designs and methods. I chose the latter.
Thus, I offered the Solviva Salad business, with greenhouse
and grounds (at very low rent) to young people who had worked
with me and who felt this was their dream come true. At first
it was great, but, depending on season, beaches or ski slopes
beckoned stronger than fidelity to business, and soon weeds
grew tall and thick, seedlings died from drowning or drought,
and thus production and income plummeted. As one enthusiast
became disillusioned another took over but soon also crashed.
I tried to help and encourage, but this was seen as "mothering"
and was not really welcomed.
Passing by that corner of my property every day, it gradually
became intolerable to see the Solviva greenhouse sink into a
mockery of its former self .... grubby, broken, weed-infested,
and littered with junk. So after 10 years of watching this morbid
decline I lost hope of anyone ever coming onboard to restore
the greenhouse to its former glory, and I finally decided to
sell the three acres surrounding the greenhouse.
Close examination revealed that the basic wood framing was still
in excellent condition (amazingly, there was non of the rot
that so many had predicted). I therefore designed a dream home
with the greenhouse A-frame as a core, with a 64 x 6-foot swimming
pool, 6 x 8-foot hot tub, sauna, 600 sq.ft. indoor garden, and
enough PV to provide all the power needed for the home plus
for 2 all-electric cars (see below).
But, unfortunately, the people who ended up buying
the property already had another house design in mind.
The day the Solviva greenhouse was demolished was heart-wrenching
and stomach-churning. After it was done and the ground smoothed
over, I shuddered with relief. Now the memories of its former
glory could live on, unimpeded by the havoc that ensued after
I abandoning it.
There is now a new home on the old greenhouse site. It is tight
and well insulated, but is definitely not a solar house: it
has few and small windows facing south, and many very large
windows facing north. But unlike most houses which are utterly
dependent on distant, expensive and insecure gas or oil for
heating, and/or the hard work and mess of many cords of wood,
this new home has geothermal heating, costing (they say) about
$10/month for heating and cooling. I have no personal experience
with this, but am definitely intrigued by this technology, much
used in Sweden, my native land. Unfortunately this home has
a standard septic system, with about 100 feet of deep gravel-filled
leaching trenches through which most of the nitrogen will leach
into the groundwater, running toward their well about 150 feet
away. You can read more about this in the update addendum in
the second printing of the SOLVIVA book.
people have thought the first part of the SOLVIVA book's sub-title
a bit audacious ("How to Grow $500,000 on One Acre
I would probably agree, IF I had not personally had the experience
of growing phenomenal quantities of salad greens on a tiny piece
of land. Of course, I never did grow the Solviva Salad on a
full acre (such as the design on p.42 in the book), but instead
on less than 1/14th acre (indoors) for the
seven cold months, and on only 1/8th acre (outdoors) for the
five warm months (in summer I used the greenhouse for growing
mostly tomatoes, cantaloupes, basil and peppers).
Based on my experience, I still believe that it is possible
to generate a gross income of $500,000 on one acre, IF it is
done with great efficiency, steadily rolling full production,
consistently highest quality and totally reliable delivery.
In fact, I now believe it is possible to do considerably better
than that. This is because of further improvements I have developed
on designs and production methods.
First of all, initial investment can be reduced. Instead of
building a wood-frame structure like I did, an energy-selfsufficient
greenhouse can be created by "Solvivizing" a standard
metal-frame double-poly greenhouse (a whole freestanding greenhouse
or half a greenhouse built against the south side of a barn
or other building), with new or second-hand frame, and with
new highest-light-transmission double-poly glazing (but without
the energy-guzzling standard heaters and cooling fans). Then
add all the various Solviva features, such as the animals (chickens
most recommended) for heat, co2 and compost, as well as the
Earthlung Filter, the Waterwall, subsoil solar heat storage,
PV solar electricity, multi-level growing areas, large vents
for summer cooling without fans, insulated north, east, west
walls, as well as rat-proof insulated foundation slab.
Secondly, both pounds-per-square-foot and income-per-pound can
be increased by growing "micro-mix" salad greens,
or "mini-greens" (2-4 weeks from sprout to harvest
instead of the 6-8-week medium-sized-leaf method that I used).
This mixture of clean small salad leaves is clearly the highest-value
form of salad greens: some claim an incredible market value
of $30-40 per pound! Of course, highest price depends on impeccable
quality and delivery, but even so one can never count on such
prices: we all know that market value fluctuates in accordance
with supply and demand.
Thirdly, time-per-pound can be reduced because this method requires
no transplanting, only seeding direct into grow-trays, whereas
my previous method required 3 stages: seeding, transplanting
into six-packs, and final planting into beds or growtubes, each
stage very time-consuming.
(This new method does not use PVC growtubes. The PVC never gave
off any odor or flavor, and therefore I was not worried about
polluting the salad greens, but I have come to think that we
must minimize the use of PVC because the manufacturing process
is definitely causing harm (although this can be prevented with
I have described and drawn these new designs and methods in
minute detail, and they are available at very reasonable price
(see pages 230-232 in the second printing of the SOLVIVA book
for the list with descriptions and prices of the various Solviva
Thus, for the one-acre max-income farm depicted (page 42) I
would probably chose to have several 3000 sq.ft. Solvivized
standard poly greenhouses instead of one large wood-framed Solviva
It is important to point out that I have not actually used these
new methods large-scale myself, but, based on my 8-year experience
being the "Captain of the Solviva ship", and on my
continuously evolving knowledge, designs and calculations, I
can still with confidence extrapolate that it is indeed possible
to generate a gross annual income of $500,000, or more, on one
This is the part of my property that was for sale, and has now
View across the pasture
Late afternoon sun streaming across the meadow
Solviva Greenhouse 1984 (now gone)
Outside: below zero F. Inside: 80 degrees F
without any heating
fuel. To learn more about this remarkable greenhouse go to the
Book: visit Solviva" section on this website.
A pond with waterlilies
lies in front of the greenhouse.
The land includes part of this lovely pond, with a rich ecosystem
that includes frogs, turtles and fish.
49 species of birds have been sighted
on this land, including Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egrets, Kingfishers, Osprey and
many different kinds of hawks.
And this was my dream for how a new owner could transform the
Solviva 2001: Next Generation.
A possible transformation of the Solviva Greenhouse.
A design for transforming
the energy-selfsufficient organic food-producing Solviva
into the Solviva Solar-Dynamic Bio-Benign Solviva Home/Spa.
A unique and wondrous opportunity
to own the penultimate clean-green home/farm/spa/studio/business.
Offering truly sustainable living to inspire the world.
Electricity Production: 2000 sq.ft.
of photovoltaic (PV) panels to produce 30,000 kwh
(30 megawatts) per year, plus 2-4 small windmills,
plus energy-generating exercise equipment. Enough electricity to power all
home and business requirements plus 2 electric cars.
and Hot Water: 2000 sq.ft. of solar roof and translucent glass,
with additional heat provided by wood stoves and animals (horses and chickens)
living in the northside barn.
Heat Storage: 6000 cu.ft. of concrete,
water and soil to store solar and wood heat.
including the animal areas.
The Solviva Solar Roof and cross ventilation
provide efficient summer cooling, without the need for exhaust fans.
$3000-4000 per year on heating and cooling.
Bio-Benign Solviva compostoilet and composting flushtoilets, and graywater irrigation
system, 90% less polluting than normal septic systems. Protecting the groundwater.
Food Production: 600 sq.ft. of raised growing
beds in full sun, plus outdoor gardens, to produce organic tomatoes, salad greens,
vegetables and herbs all year-round for the residents and visitors plus several
families beyond. Saving megabucks and improving health.
Swimming Pool: 64 feet long by 6 feet wide, heated by solar and wood.
Other option: Endless Pool.
Hot Tub: 6 x 8 feet, heated by solar
and wood, surrounded by lounging area.
Sauna: 8 x 14 feet, heated
by solar and wood.
Exercise Equipment: Various resistance devises,
all connected to generators for producing electricity.
bathroom with shower, and surrounded with lush rainforest plants.
Room: open 24 x 36 feet spacious kitchen/dining/lounging areas. Wood stove
Master bedroom/office suite,
24 x 32 feet, with kitchenette, full bath and wood stove.
bedroom/office suite, 16 x 20 feet, with kitchenette, full bath and wood stove.
6 small bedrooms, 10 x 10 feet, with single beds opening to double, to
accommodate 6 - 12 family members/visitors/students.
Bathrooms: 4 full,
each with bath, shower, sink and flushtoilet, all with bio-benign compost/filter
systems, that release 80-90% less nitrogen to the groundwater than standard septic
are incorporated for the purpose of providing heat, co2, organic compost fertilizer,
organic eggs and meat (chicken, turkey, lamb), as well as company, love and fun.
Stable for 5 horses and 10 sheep (or 9 horses). Spacious coop
for 30 chickens and 10 turkeys.
Odor-free deep bedding system.
Compost bins and storage for grain and hay, leaves and shavings.
BACK TO TOP
How to contact Anna Edey, Solviva, Trailblazer
18 Solviva Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568
Tel: (508) 693-3341- - Cell phone: (774) 563-0898 - - Fax: (508) 693-2228
AND, as of January 2014, at Blog/Website: www.solvivagreenlight.com