Hydroponic, Organic Indoor Growing And More
Bill Thomas, business manager and one of BioDome’s three partners, grew up in Falconer working on his grandfather’s farm, selling corn at a roadside stand.
“As a kid, I wanted to be a farmer, but the economics didn’t make sense. Most of the farms closed.”
When he returned to the area after being away for several years, he came to see this area in a new light. “I began to realize all of the great resources, advantages of networking through friends and family and that the cost of living is very reasonable. We saw there was a space in the market for locally-grown food. I learned Chautauqua County has more farms than any county in New York state, but downtown Jamestown is a food desert.”
“We originally started as a little plant shop. This (space) became available and we spent a year renovating it, floor, ceiling, electricity. We patched walls, painted and built a loft for an area for starting plants and keeping tropical plants,” said Ryan Peterson, another partner who has lived in various communities in Chautauqua County and who met Bill while working with him at Jamestown Skate Products.
“We used as much as we could from what was here or we tried to keep little pieces of the past,” Thomas said. “We really have an appreciation for the scarred floors from the print shop that used to be here and for the one hundred year old building.”
“We’re coming into our season,” Peterson continues. “We grow with heirloom seeds and organic soil. We’ll have tons of starter plants in May. We sell Seed Savers Exchange heirloom seeds, potting soil, nutrients, natural pesticides and grow lights.”
Custom-designed hydroponic and aquaponic indoor food growing systems are a major part of the business. This is done with an emphasis on efficiency by using economical and ecologically sustainable methods. In the summer months the business sells organic produce, which is grown in their garden.
Peterson points out random lady bugs helped to do away with any unwanted insects. “We offer fresh herbs year round and do a lot of hydroponic growing and have house plants. We sell primarily plants, plant supplies, clothing and a few other things and we rent shelf space to different vendors from around the area. It is all locally made, woodwork, pottery, soap and candles, food products, artwork, jewelry, beauty supplies.”
“We never know what is going to come through the door,” Peterson said. He points out many vendor products including Pam Gifford Pottery, Chautauqua Soap Company’s soap and candles, Burning Asphalt’s sauces and condiments and many more. He grins when he talks about Thunberg Woodworking products, whose business is located in the basement of the building.
“We like to say they are the most local vendor.”
Clint Peyton, a third partner, points to Thomas. “Bill is picking fresh basil for Labyrinth Restaurant,” he says as he gives a little background on himself. “I’m a transplant to the area, coming after I got out of the Navy.”
Peyton left the Navy after eleven years, where he served as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman, “basically a medic for the Marines.” After having no luck finding a job, he took part in Veteran’s Sustainable Agriculture Training program. He met the other two men during his visits as a customer at the Skate Shop where they worked and became an original vendor at BioDome, selling wooden bowls made from repurposed wood, which he turns on a lathe. After his wife of Hawaiian decent, had been ordering bulk Alaea salt for her recipes, they decided they would season and sell it in the shop, as well.
With his agricultural background and desire to work with plants and improve the quality of the food system, he joined the BioDome team.
“We do love the seasons and the culture of the area,” Peyton said.
“When you work downtown, you realize how important it is to support small business,” says Thomas. “There is a network of small local businesses that support the local economy. Whatever is spent here really stays local. Each vendor is kind of their own small business. The more small businesses we get, the more support for each other. We are finding we’ve become a hub for small business vendors.”
He goes on to talk about the timing in the upswing of downtown Jamestown. “The timing with the city and us was great. We don’t need one big solution to fix downtown Jamestown, we need 13,000 solutions. We’re just a link in the chain.”
Peyton has seen similar small businesses in California and sees the benefits of their business staying small.
“My wife and I saw immediately the family-style atmosphere. I’ve lived all over the country and never have had the kind of service (found in the Jamestown area).”
He tells about his car breaking down and how a local garage got him back on the road and offered to wait on payment until a more convenient time. This gesture was foreign to the father of two before coming to Jamestown.
Out of the trio, Ryan Peterson, who also does general construction, painting and handyman work, may the one that does the most cooking.
“I do a lot of cooking. I don’t go off of recipes. I create a lot or vary recipes. I try to get creative in the kitchen. He combined two recipes and added his own touch to come up with the Spicy Dilly
“The Spicy Dilly Beans are made from beans, garlic and herbs grown at BioDome Project. I prefer spicy and garlic. My mom and grandparents always canned and I started canning when I started growing a lot of vegetables.”
“The Stonybrook Squash Seed Oil in the BioDome Mashed Maple Butternut Squash recipe is sold at BioDome and the squash is grown here.”
The last of the three recipes Peterson contributes is Easy Blue-Green Maple Crisp. “We go blueberry picking every summer and stock our freezer so we are always using them in something. I substitute sugar with local maple syrup found at BioDome Project, but if the berries are sweet enough no sugar is needed. The green apples add a nice tartness. Most recipes call for a premixed solution of berries sugar water and corn starch. I skip this step and just sprinkle a little corn starch with the fruit to help absorb moisture.”
“The Kahlua Pig is a dish that would be served as a staple in Hawaiian culture, however it has been adjusted to be cooked in a crock pot anywhere,” says Clint Peyton. “Traditionally, the whole hog would be placed in a cage lined with banana leaves and then buried in an underground oven called an imu where it would cook all day or overnight and dug up, deboned, scattered with alaea salt and served. Zoning restrictions in some neighborhood preclude this method and so here is a solution.”
“Throughout my childhood my parents always had a garden and so there would be fresh produce around which was used for various meal stuffs, which often included Summer Cucumbers. As an adult I’ve continued to eat this fresh and awesome dish.”
“I love seafood. My mom grew up in a restaurant family so she taught me to be open-minded about food. Garlic Shrimp is another dish that I learned of while living in Hawaii. It would generally come from a food truck and would be served plate lunch style over a bed of rice with a scoop of macaroni salad.”
BioDome is open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday.
Pork Butt/ Shoulder Roast appropriately sized for your home’s crock pot.
¢ c Veteran Fresh Smokey Hawaiian Blend (available at BioDome Project) or Hawaiian Aleae Salt (also available at BioDome Project)
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 c water
Add 1 cup water and liquid smoke to crock pot. Place pork in crock pot. Evenly apply ™ cup salt to pork, and then add an additional ¢ cup water. Cook on low setting for 8 hours. Once meat has cooked, simply shred with forks and add additional salt to taste. Serve on a bed of rice or with your favorite sides.
5 c sliced cucumbers (available seasonally at the BioDome Project)
¢ c thinly sliced red onion (available seasonally at the BioDome Project)
2 T red wine or balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, or Borsari original salt blend (available at the BioDome Project)
Combine cucumbers, onion, vinegar, and add salt and pepper to taste.
1 whole garlic (available at the BioDome Project)
1-2 lb bag easy peel shrimp, thawed
1 stick salted butter
Mince or crush garlic and add with butter to large pan or wok on medium-high heat. Once melted allow garlic to simmer for 2-3 minutes and then add thawed shrimp. Cook shrimp until the color is consistently pink. This time varies depending on pan size but about 10 minutes. Serve on a bed of white rice.
As an alternative, add juice from 2-3 lemons for a lemon-garlic shrimp, or add 1 cup buffalo wing hot sauce for a buffalo-garlic shrimp.
To Eat: Grab shrimp, suck the juices off, then peel the shell off and enjoy!
Easy Blue-Green Maple Crisp
2 T corn starch, divided
2 c fresh or frozen Blueberies
2 c peeled sliced Granny Smith apples
™ c maple syrup (or to taste for sweetness)
1 c flour
1 c oats
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
¢ c melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13“x 9”(or similar) baking dish. Dust bottom lightly with cornstarch. Arrange blueberries and apples in dish. Drizzle maple syrup over fruit to desired sweetness. Dust fruit lightly with cornstarch. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and combine. Spread mixture evenly over fruit and bake for 35 minutes.
Spicy Dilly Beans
3 lbs green beans
6 garlic cloves
3 c water
3 c white vinegar
5 T pickling salt
5 tsp dill seed and/or fresh dill
5 tsp red chili flakes or cayenne pepper
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T sugar
Prepare hot water canning bath or pressure cooker. Wash and Prepare green beans to fill 6 pint canning jars. Add a garlic clove that has been halved, and a halved jalapeno to each jar. In a separate pan, combine water, vinegar, salt and spices. Heat to a boil then pour hot brine into each jar leaving 1/2″ head space. Make sure rim is clean before putting lids on the jars. Process jars submerged in hot water bath for at least 10 minutes. Leave canned for at least one week, as flavor improves with time. Makes approximately 6 pints.
BioDome Mashed Maple Butternut Squash
1 medium size butternut squash
2 T butter
2 T Stonybrook squash seed oil (can be purchased at BioDome Project)
™ c maple syrup
2 T lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T cinnamon, optional
Preheat oven to 350. Halve squash. Remove seeds. Cover or wrap in foil. Bake for 40-45minutes. Many recipes will call for cutting and peeling squash then roasting. I prefer baking halved squash and scooping out flesh. In a dish combine all ingredients well. Serve. Makes approx 3-4 cups.