aerial view of warrior rizen

Modern Dude Ranch Uses Solar Greenhouse to Help Heal Wounded Vets and Their Families

A greenhouse can provide food for a community, but it can also provide a sense of tranquility to those who tend it. Both aspects were top of mind when we designed a community greenhouse for Warrior Rizen – a dude ranch for wounded military veterans and their families out in the remote reaches of Utah. For vets trying to overcome emotional and psychological trauma after returning to civilian life, the peacefulness of tending a vegetable garden in a warm and safe environment is healing at a personal and communal level. We worked with the team at Warrior Rizen to come up with a greenhouse solution that would align the needs of the ranch with the local climate. The end product is a 3,000 square foot insulated grow house that provides fresh veggies to the inhabitants of the ranch year-round. 

aerial view of warrior rizen and greenhouse

The greenhouse and the ranch were completed at the beginning of Summer 2020. We were curious to know how things were going so we contacted John Schlichte, one of the founders of Warrior Rizen, to learn more about the ranch and the role that the greenhouse plays.

Warrior Rizen is a 6,000-acre high-desert cattle farm located in Morgan, Utah. Summers in Morgan are hot and dry while winters are snowy and frigid. In this type of climate, an insulated, energy-efficient greenhouse is certainly necessary for year-round production. 

Coming from a long line of military service, and having served in the military himself (his son also currently serves), John knows that when vets suffer from PTSD, their families suffer as well. That’s why he wanted to create a place where wounded vets and their families could escape the busyness of modern-day life to focus on healing as a community.  Thus Warrior Rizen was created. The name “Warrior Rizen” represents the injured soldier who overcomes their wounds (rising up) with the help of their community.    

kids with horses

During the summer months at Warrior Rizen, guests are invited to participate in activities such as gardening, bee-keeping, horseback riding, and river rafting. By working on the ranch with other families, guests enjoy a heightened sense of community and self-sufficiency as they raise, grow, and harvest their own food. John mentioned that there are no TVs in the guests’ rooms in an effort to minimize digital distractions. The goal is for families to slow down and get back to basics – working together like families used to in a time when everyone played a role in maintaining a homestead. 

Warrior Rizen ranch can be defined as rustic and high-tech. The chicken coops on the property are mobile and solar-powered, and the greenhouse is a highly efficient growing machine even through the toughest winters. 

Warrior Rizen originally contacted Ceres because they needed a durable greenhouse that could sustain comfortable growing temperatures year-round without breaking the bank. We designed them a greenhouse with a GAHT® system that has kept the inside temperatures within a steady range. Recently, Warrior Rizen installed a wet wall evaporative cooler to cool the greenhouse during the hot and dry summer months.

placing the gaht
outside the wet wall

John’s friends and family self-excavated and self-installed the entire greenhouse. Not only did this save them money, but it also helped them to better understand the functionality of their greenhouse.

According to John, the greenhouse is “erupting in growth” and he said that guests enjoy gardening and learning how to grow their own food in it. Guests love harvesting their own vegetables, and John believes that this feeling of connectedness to the land helps with personal and familial healing. 

Adding a greenhouse to the ranch was a no-brainer for John. He thought if his beef is naturally raised, why shouldn’t his vegetables be? It’s important to John that his vegetables are vine-ripened so that guests can taste the quality of food that is grown on-site and picked the same day it’s eaten. Food tastes better when you feel like you’ve earned it. 

John says that while the intent of the ranch and the community is to support wounded veterans, it’s really his family that has benefited the most. They constantly experience families overcoming hardships and reconnecting at a very meaningful level and it has helped his family grow stronger and be more appreciative. 

When summer ends, Warrior Rizen becomes a self-sustaining cattle ranch that sells grass-fed beef to the local community. The restaurant on the ranch stays open to the public year-round and serves the beef as well as vegetables from the greenhouse. Guests at the restaurant are encouraged to tour the ranch after their meal to see where their food came from. The restaurant proceeds go to supporting veterans and their families. 

For more information on Warrior Rizen, and to see what they’re up to, follow their Facebook page. If you or your community organization have a greenhouse project in mind, please contact us. Our experts specialize in more than just greenhouses and we will work hard to make sure all your growing goals are met and more. Come grow with us! 

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