The Organization:

The Greenhouse Project is a Nevada a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt corporation whose mission is to sustainably operate a community-based greenhouse and garden in Carson City.
The project effort was in response to the direct and vocal need for the schoolchildren of the Carson City community to learn the importance of sustainable living while providing fresh nutritious food free of charge to the food banks. Another goal is to help get families, children, schools and the community at large unplugged from the TV, computer games and the computer and ‘reconnected’ with the outdoors.
The Project:
The Carson City School District has provided the land at Carson High School on which the Greenhouse Project was built in 2011. Plant production began in January 2012. The project consists of a 2,160 square foot, commercial-sized greenhouse, a 33-foot hoop house (high tunnel), 65 raised planter beds and a small orchard. There are three compost bins, vermicomposting (worms), a permaculture demonstration area and soon there will be grapes. Students and volunteers raise mushrooms in addition to vegetables for donation.
The Greenhouse Project provides educational and vocational opportunities for students, youth groups and special needs individuals in a garden setting. The entire site is ADA accessible. Both inside and outside the greenhouse and all planting tables are designed to provide for persons with disabilities access. Special needs students in Carson City are a vital part of the production team each year.
The Greenhouse is designed to be self-sustainable through the provision of energy by solar panels, a ground source heat pump and the proper management of the soils and the growing environment. The Project uses ecologically sustainable growing methods to cultivate vegetables, fruit, flowers and bedding plants.
The Mission:
The Greenhouse Project serves as a teaching facility for hands-on training programs that emphasize environmental stewardship, the importance of outdoor activity, civic engagement and academic achievement. Through these programs, students cultivate and distribute vegetables for school culinary classes and local food banks and produce 62 flower baskets for the downtown Carson City corridor.
In addition to providing youth educational and vocational opportunities, The Greenhouse Project also serves the needs of Carson’s low-income community by increasing access to fresher, more nutritious food, with local food banks and low-income individuals receiving 90 percent of the production. The remaining produce is donated to the Carson High School culinary program to ensure the culinary students have a steady source of seasonal vegetables year-round. The project also promotes revitalization of Carson City’s downtown commercial corridor by enhancing its appearance through horticultural arts.
Progress to date:
In 2013, 802 students visited the greenhouse including students from Carson High School, Bordewich Bray Elementary, Fremont Elementary 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 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 over 3,300 hours. Over 100 local volunteers donated approximately 1,000 hours to help feed those in need and beautify the community. In 2013, these extraordinary students and volunteers raised and donated over 4,000 pounds of healthy delicious vegetables and mushrooms to Friends in Service Helping, Ron Wood Family Resource Center, Salvation Army and the Carson High School Culinary Program.
In 2012, students and volunteers produced and donated 1,463 pounds of produce. Student participation, including classes, tours and juvenile probation work, totaled 2,599 hours. Non-student volunteer hours totaled 1,042 hours.
The Funding:
Phase one of the project cost approximately $300,000. The project was funded through multiple sources: a grant through the Recreational Trails Program, Nevada Division of State Parks for $200,000; a $29,000 HUD grant; $25,000 Specialty Crop Block Grant through Nevada Department of Agriculture; and a Carson City Community and Youth programs grant for $11,000. Volunteers work each year to find grants to support the project. In addition, the project has multiple fundraisers each year and continues to be supported by many generous contributors.
The People:
The concept for the project started in November 2008 with the Carson City Cultural Commission, an advisory board to the Carson City Board of Supervisors, whose mission is to forward civic and economic benefit for Carson City and the State of Nevada. Led by Cultural Commission member Karen Abowd, a special Citizen Action Group of over 35 members was formed and, in February of 2009, the group presented the project to the Carson City Board of Supervisors. The project won the Board’s approval together with its commitment of staff resources to aid in establishing a community greenhouse.
The board and the action committee are local professionals in the field of horticulture, agriculture, law, arts, marketing, business, grants administration, parks and recreation. They are fully committed to making this project a learning institution that will be successful for Carson City and used as a model state and nationwide
For More Information:
Karen Abowd
President, The Greenhouse Project