Growing For The Community

JoAnne Skelly
skellyj@unce.unr.edu

Gardeners are easy to delight. Show me thriving plants or introduce me to a new veggie and I’m quite happy. Today’s pleasure was young daikon radish greens, which I had never eaten before. I was visiting the The Greenhouse Project at Carson High School for my weekly meeting with Camille, the site manager/educator. We were looking at a student’s permaculture senior project in which he is growing daikon as a cover crop. I picked a few leaves and tasted them out of curiosity. They were sweet and delicious with just a hint of radish. I stood there imagining using these tender young greens in a salad or stir-fry.

As the horticulture advisor on The Greenhouse Project (TGP), I work with Camille to keep the plants healthy. Every week we examine them to see how they are doing. We inspect for insects, diseases or nutrient deficiencies, which thankfully are rare. We discuss current fertilization practices and the planting and activity sequence for the next few weeks. And, while I’m there, I revel in an environment filled with flourishing plants. TGP, a non-profit organization that raises and donates food to those in need in Carson City, is an amazing venture made successful through the efforts of volunteers, special needs students, students working on their senior projects as well as agriculture and Future Farmers of America students under Camille’s guidance. The School District, Carson High and many community organizations and businesses are also important partners.

In 2013, 802 students visited the greenhouse including students from Carson High, Bordewich Bray, Fremont and Carson Montessori schools. Seven students are doing senior projects covering topics such as hydroponic medicinal herbs, greenhouse management, culinary crops, permaculture and botany. Thirty-eight special needs students planted seeds, transplanted seedlings and cared for the petunias for the downtown flower baskets and veggies for donations. Six AmeriCorps volunteers learned how to work in a commercial greenhouse putting in over 3,300 hours. Over 100 local volunteers donated approximately 1,000 hours to help feed those in need and beautify the community. These extraordinary people raised and donated over 3,200 pounds of healthy delicious vegetables to FISH, Ron Wood Family Resource Center and the Carson High School Culinary Program.

For information on supporting the students and volunteers at TGP to feed the hungry, or for information on upcoming events  go to www.carsoncitygreenhouse.org. TGP also has a Facebook page with photos of the day’s activities. It’s wonderful what a community can grow!