Momentum for a sustainability project is growing in the city—literally growing.
Harrisburg’s Reservoir Park greenhouse is on its way to restoration having received a $25,000 “Better Food, Better Access, Better Together” grant from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
“We have been working with a large coalition to restore the Reservoir Park greenhouse for several years now and are encouraged by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s gift,” said Harrisburg Parks Foundation Secretary Zac Monnier.
The 1,500-square-foot greenhouse was built in 1929 and is part of a garden located off of Whitehall Street on the southwest side of Reservoir Park. Unused for 20 years, the greenhouse has been experiencing revitalization from the Parks Foundation and the Foundation for Enhancing Communities.
“Many of us have been working for years to bring the greenhouse and garden back to life, with the city’s and the community’s support,” said Rafiyqa Muhammad, a member of the City’s Environmental Advisory Council and the owner of Sustainable Human Environment, who has been a member of the greenhouse renovation working group since its inception. “With this grant, and the others we hope will follow, we will be able to create a space for everyone, one that is handicap accessible and designed to reconnect our children with one of the most fundamental and empowering things of all–our ability to grow healthy food and nurture healthy bodies and minds.”
According to the city’s Sustainability Manager Christopher Nafe, the goal of the greenhouse is to provide an educational experience for visitors to learn about urban farming, gardening at home and healthy and affordable cooking and eating.
Nafe also recognizes that parts of Harrisburg are classified as food deserts and believes that the greenhouse can help provide options for residents, especially in Allison Hill.
“We are hoping to try to fill that void and act as a community resource,” he said.
The food bank hopes, with the help of this grant, that the greenhouse will inspire youth to grow their own healthy food and even encourage them to consider agricultural careers.
“This is us working with our community to end hunger in Harrisburg,” Executive Director Joe Arthur said.
This isn’t the first time funds have been donated to the greenhouse. The Whitt Family Foundation awarded the greenhouse a $25,000 grant and the Rotary Club of Harrisburg has donated $5,000.
The group working to restore the greenhouse includes the Homegrown Harrisburg Community Gardens Network, Tri-County Community Action, Messiah University Center for Sustainability, Harrisburg Young Professionals of Color, Sustainable Human Environment, LLC, and Harrisburg Urban Growers.
“We are hoping to have the greenhouse operate as a hub connecting all of these organizations,” Nafe said.
The team also hopes to restore the grounds surrounding the greenhouse and possibly renovate the Brownstone Building, which the greenhouse sits behind, for use as a food demonstration kitchen, according to Nafe. The total project is projected to cost around $245,000.
The working group was formed in 2018 and hopes to have the greenhouse functioning by next spring or summer. They are currently in the planning phase.
For more information on the Reservoir Park greenhouse, visit http://harrisburgpa.gov/reservoir-park-greenhouse-receives-25000-grant-from-central-pa-food-bank/.