Carson City Greenhouse project helps — well, everyone
One of my dreams in my professional life was to introduce young people to the viability of a great career in horticulture. I have been fortunate to realize that goal through my involvement with The Greenhouse Project (TGP). However, awakening the passion for growing and working with plants in youth is only one wonderful aspect of this project. I also get to work with caring dedicated people, help beautify downtown Carson City and, best of all, help feed those in need.
TGP, a non-profit corporation, provides educational and vocational opportunities for students, youth groups and special needs individuals in a greenhouse and garden setting. It’s a teaching facility that emphasizes environmental stewardship, the importance of outdoor activity, civic engagement and academic achievement. Students cultivate and distribute vegetables for school culinary classes and local food banks and produce 62 flower baskets for downtown Carson City. They learn business skills such as sales, marketing, product development and distribution by running a community supported agriculture program or by producing plant starts to raise money to support their programs.
In addition to providing youth educational and vocational opportunities, TGP also serves the needs of Carson’s low-income community by donating fresh, nutritious and organically raised food through local food banks.
In 2014, 3,255 students visited the greenhouse. Eight students did senior projects covering topics such as medicinal herbs, greenhouse management, culinary crops, permaculture, managing non-profits and botany. Thirty-eight special needs students planted seeds, transplanted seedlings and provided the care in the greenhouse for the petunias for the downtown flower baskets and veggies for donations. Six AmeriCorps interns learned how to work in a commercial greenhouse putting in 2,700 hours. More than 227 local volunteers donated 865 hours to help feed those in need and beautify the community. Each year, these extraordinary students, interns and volunteers raise and donate approximately 4,000 pounds of healthy, delicious vegetables and mushrooms to Friends In Service Helping, Ron Wood Family Resource Center, Salvation Army, Circles Initiative and the Carson High School Culinary Program.
Fundraising provides 80 percent and grants 20 percent of the funding needed to run the greenhouse with the major support coming from generous private donations — not only of money, but also of labor and professional assistance. TGP pays the school district $5,000 per year to lease the property and the school district uses those funds to support Future Farmers of America. The Greenhouse Project is growing Nevada’s next generation of farmers.
JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and may be reached at email@example.com or 775-887-2252.