Baxter Community Center’s new greenhouse will sprout healthy food options for Grand Rapids neighbors

This post is from Rapid Growth Media’s 9-22-2011 edition


About the time their summer vegetable gardens are just a fond memory to most Grand Rapids gardeners, the Baxter Community Center will be setting up its first year-round gardening environment in its new heated greenhouse.

The 1,060-square-foot greenhouse is the latest addition to Baxter Community Center’s ongoing efforts to bring fresh produce and budget-friendly foods to a neighborhood classified by the Public Health Department as a “food desert,” a place lacking sources of easily accessible foods and fresh produce. Construction began Sept. 6 and the greenhouse will be completed by the end of November.

“We’re working to set up holistic support for our neighbors, and the greenhouse will be a learning space to teach people how to garden and to provide starter plants for them to use,” says Melanie Beelen, executive director. “Our partners in the program are the YMCA and Our Kitchen Table — the Y will focus on teaching nutrition, youth gardening and exercise; Our Kitchen Table will work with neighbors to provide one-on-one support for their home gardens.”*

The greenhouse learning experience ties in with Baxter’s onsite community garden where neighbors plant and grow food for their families. And it will have a direct connection with Around the Table, a program that teaches people how to cook fresh produce now and preserve some of it for later use through canning. That program, in turn, works hand-in-hand with Double Up Food Bucks, which teaches people how to get more for their grocery dollar.

*Note from OKT: OKT is also planning on using the greenhouse to plant starter plants for home gardeners, community gardens and communal gardens in our four target neighborhoods: SECA, Eastown, Garfield Park and Baxter. Last year, we grew 20,000 starter plants for distribution in donated space within two private greenhouses.

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Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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