It’s hard times right now. Looking around, from city to small town, there are empty buildings everywhere. For lease signs loom in windows, brand new office buildings stand deserted and never used. It all seems like such a waste of resources and energy and a sad reminder of the pace our economy has slowed to. In the face of this hardship, ideas such as The Greenhouse Project in Central Wisconsin offer respite. A group of passionate people, working on a volunteer basis towards providing “opportunities for participation, education, cooperation, and action to support a local food economy in Central Wisconsin” have banded together and successfully started renovations on a dilapidated 38,000 square foot property in downtown Stevens Point. The vision is to create a self-sustaining, multi-faceted production and education center, where rural farming techniques can coalesce with a thriving urban community ready to learn about them.
Central Rivers Farmshed is a non-profit organization, made up of a network of people that strive to connect the local community to their food. Their main beliefs are pure and simple: “Food should be grown in a sustainable manner; People should know how to buy, grow, harvest, preserve, and prepare local foods; The public should know local farmers; Farmers should know who eats their food.” Farmshed is responsible for a number of undertakings, including a comprehensive local food guide called the Farm Fresh Atlas. Under this mission, the organization banded together with the Central Wisconsin Resiliency Project, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, and North Wind Renewable Energy to finally create and launch a physical reference for their ideologies.
The ambitious Greenhouse Project is coming to fruition with the help of bestselling author and local resident Patrick Rothfuss. He came aboard, purchasing the foreclosed property and providing the green light to Central Rivers Farmshed, the new leaseholders, to break ground. Four main tenants–soil, energy, food, and incubator–are the focus of the endeavor. Compost production, renewable energy systems, sustainable agriculture, and food business incubation and support are what the future holds.
Interim Executive Director, Layne Cozzolino says that the space “will house 11,000 square feet in production greenhouses, a community kitchen, gathering space, and learning center. Through expansion of current programming, The Central Rivers Farmshed will use the space to deepen our community’s relationship with food in all forms: from growing, to processing, preserving, cooking, and finally eating.”
Reclaiming spaces by converting a concept into a physical reality has the potential to positively change communities and create growth and local involvement in a sustainable way. To donate to The Greenhouse Project, click here.
Watch a video about the project here:
Photo 1: Media Loom