PULLMAN — Before the rains came Saturday, an eclectic collection of urban gardeners stitched together random bicycle wheels with wire to create a dome that soon will be covered in cucumber and zucchini vines and, if all goes as planned, play host to occasional rap battles.
Welcome to the Cooperation Operation “Terradome.”
The idea to grow vegetables on old bike rims was born on social media of all places.
“We were planning to build a geodesic dome as a shade structure, which might happen later, but that’s a much larger undertaking. Then, someone shared on Facebook an image of a bike dome. I thought that was cool. … So, I wrote a proposal and now we’re doing it,” Cooperation Operation co-founder Liz Nerat said.
After scoring a grant to build the dome from Catholic Relief Services Office of Peace and Justice, Nerat picked up the old bike rims from Chicago’s Resource Center, a non-profit recycling organization in Hyde Park that has helped the Pullman farming co-op — and other urban farms in the city — by providing support and recycled materials that can be used in innovative ways.
Vivana Gentry Fernandez-Pellon, the co-op’s garden operations director, said she plans to plant small squash and cucumber vines that will snake their way up the dome, shade-loving herbs and mint inside and maybe a patch of morning glories to pretty up the raised bed.
“The idea is that this can be multi-use for growing and performance and just a place to go for some peace and quiet,” she said.
“We want it to be a place you can go for some quiet time, go inside and chill out under the greenery. And the reason we call it the 'Terradome' is that we had a music and arts festival here last year and I’ve had dreams of building a stage. We want to open up [the dome] like a bandshell, maybe with vines hanging down kinda like a curtain and build a platform where people can perform and potentially have rap battles. That would be really cool.”
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