Towaoc Greenhouse Grows Food for Seniors

January 26, 2024

In Towaoc, a recently built greenhouse known as the Growdome, built by Growing Spaces, is now growing fresh food for the Ute Mountain Ute Senior Center. Funded by the San Juan Basin Area Agency for Aging, additional indoor growing spaces are being built at Senior Centers across the region to engage the community and provide fresh produce for the elderly. By Ilana Newman. This story is sponsored by Big O Tires and FASTSIGNS Durango.

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In Towaoc, a new greenhouse is now growing fresh food for the Ute Mountain Ute Senior Center. The greenhouse and several others across Southwest Colorado are built by the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Big O Tires and Fastsigns Durango. I'm Connor Shreve. Todd Gunter is the horticulturist for the Towaoc Grow Dome.

Whatever food I harvest for 'em, I take to the kitchen and they use in whatever they're serving. They serve like a hundred lunches a day. They prepare a hundred lunches a day. Some of 'em are for home deliveries, some of 'em are for cafeteria style eating, but the food goes out to all the elderly people in the community.

The Grow Dome was built in early 2023 by Growing Spaces, a Pagosa Springs based greenhouse company. Gunter was hired in summer of 2023 and has started to bring the Grow Dome to life with a vast variety of edible plants.

Well, we've had tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce have all been harvested as well as zucchinis. I've got peppers growing. They're kind of slow this time of year. And the peas are doing really well. So we'll get peas and more tomatoes next.

Additional indoor growing spaces are planned for senior centers across Southwest Colorado, including Ignacio on the Southern Ute Reservation, Silverton, Pagosa Springs, and Dove Creek. The Grow Dome on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation was the first greenhouse to be completed.

Well, all of Towaoc is a food desert, so there's no grocery store. They've got to drive all the way into Cortez to get any fresh food. So we've got the opportunity to provide 'em with fresh food.

The senior center in Towaoc serves around 1500 meals per month, and the Grow Dome has so far been able to contribute fresh greens and other produce for meals. Tomatoes and peppers are ripening even with snow covering the ground outside the greenhouse. Gunter and the folks at the senior center have big plans for the future of the Grow Dome.

I want to expand the whole area around the dome to be a gathering place for the community. Maybe, we got to get the fencing in, but it'd be great to grow an outdoor garden as well during the summer seasons. And just seating and more reasons for the community to come out and enjoy what we have out there. And even in this time of year, when it's 15 degrees outside, it's 20 to 40 degrees warmer in the greenhouse. It's comfy. So I want to put in maybe some tables for people to come in, refinish the floor so that it's more accessible to wheelchairs and people on walkers and people with mobility issues, make it a place that the community comes to for relaxation as well as fresh food.

Gunter wants to engage the entire Towaoc and Montezuma County community with the Grow Dome Project, from weeding and watering to just spending time in the dome. Anyone is welcome to come volunteer or check out and learn about the space. Just contact Todd at You can learn more about this story and others at Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Connor Shreve.


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