Islands Greenhouse Project

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What is the Project?

The greenhouse is an innovative and accessible community greenhouse project located in Freeport that supports food security, intergenerational learning, community building and yummy locally-produced food.

A greenhouse space will provide so much to our community.  Imagine a beautiful warm inviting building designed for people to grow food, gather in inclement weather, teach younger people gardening, sharing ways to cook what has been grown, attend workshops on fermenting and storing food, share stories about our lives, and new stories to fill us up with the vitality of living on a beautiful island. 

The greenhouse is accessible to everyone, encourages sharing, not just of food resources but also opportunities for our seniors to be more known and interactive in the community, and with our children.  It is about growing together (literally and figuratively), harvesting done together and shared with the wider community.  It is about people coming in their scooters, walkers, bikes to wander in, chat, warm inside a lush space, compare seeds, chat, get to know each other, and create beauty in our lives.

This is exciting! This is exciting for seniors living alone, students, children learning to grow stuff in the garden, people who want to grow food in a greenhouse who can’t grow it outside, who want to get a jump on spring planting, grow herbs, to grow things to share with others. It is a place of beauty. It’s a place for building relationships, creating partnerships, doing gardening with others, giving hope in a difficult time.

It is exciting to start and be part of such a project that has so much to offer and on an ongoing potential to change with the times, and all the while providing food and nourishment to our lives. We really want to envision prosperity for our communities on all levels now and in 10 years from now.

Why it is exciting?  And for whom?

This is a very cool project by the Freeport Community Development Association, the Federal Government ‘s New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP), and the Municipality of Digby.   With $24,000 coming from the Federal Government as part of initiatives to improve the quality of life and engagement of older populations, it is a community-driven project that includes everyone from school-aged kids to Seniors.   Already over 40 people and several other community organizations have indicated they want to be involved.  The Greenhouse is slated to be completed in the Fall of 2020. 

The Islands Greenhouse Project is a Seniors-led endeavor geared to designing, constructing and managing an accessible-enabled greenhouse, specifically targeted for a wide spectrum of seniors including vulnerable seniors, seniors with disabilities, and those with limited mobility. 

The main objective combines the opportunity to grow vegetables, increase food security, lessen social isolation, offer opportunities to share skills and knowledges, build relationships with each other and within wider community members. 

Design is awesome? Yes.

The proposed greenhouse is a locally designed, sourced and built structure (20’x32’) created by Ann Schweitzer and Frank Palermo, people who have thoroughly researched this and bring a huge background in architecture, civil engineering and community design.  We are so fortunate to have had Ann’s commitment to this project, involving already hundreds of hours of research, design and costing.

The design is able by withstand 180 km winds, last for 20—40 years, with in-floor geo heating, solar vents and lights, and gravity-fed rainwater-collected watering system, all the while being totally accessible.  Truly Amazing!  This is something the entire community can be super proud of.  We are blazing new for rural communities to engage with their futures.

It includes some great design features including waist-height and hanging planting boxes, small sitting area, warm natural geo-thermal under-floor heating, heat and water storage capacities, and gorgeous light in a bomb-proof greenhouse. 

Depending on the final design, people will be able to grow veggies, plants, fruit, and herbs from late February to November, or from March to October.

Incredible Design Criteria?

It has been guided by the following needs:

  1. Broad levels of Accessibility and ease of use
    1. Community Needs: Participation, diversity and appropriate size
    1. Maximize light and heat
    1. Optimize Heat storage
    1. Strength and longevity of Structure
    1. Comparative cost to build

Extending from the initial design process to ongoing outreach, decision-making, growing and managing the greenhouse, the project aims to increase the level of senior volunteerism in the community and within community organizations (such as the Freeport Community Development Association) and by extension to the wider community, while providing opportunities for ageing well.

The proposed project will increase the opportunities to participate and contribute to community events and programs in a significant number of ways. The Islands Greenhouse Project will increase the number of new seniors taking on active roles as volunteers, leaders, designers, and facility-users.

The proposed project will act as a community/seniors’ hub to provide higher levels of activities on an ongoing basis, including opportunities for potential workshops on organic and bio-dynamic gardening, collective decision-making, cooperative food preparation and canning, and climate change.  

The project is also envisioned as being extended and inclusive of the wider community, be it the nearby local school and school children, family members, and interested local community members.  The myriad possibilities for community events (including a possible future “Farmers Market”) and knowledge sharing offers numerous opportunities for increased social interaction and participation with and by seniors.

Project Phases

The project to design and implement a community-based Greenhouse focussed on seniors has a number of phases and associated activities.

Phase I (Presently)

This includes the writing of this grant proposal with its associated meetings with seniors to ensure support and initiate a process of meaningful leadership and engagement.  This includes meetings, finalizing the location and design, developing the Greenhouse Committee and increasing membership, liaising with the chosen contractor for the Greenhouse construction and preparing for its use. 

Involvement in the design and realization of the project has begun in 2019 with initial meetings with Seniors in Freeport at the Island Manor, and elsewhere on the Islands.  Volunteer community animators (themselves, Seniors) facilitated engagement on the idea of a Community Greenhouse, New Horizon Programming and Funding Priorities, and begun the process of identifying Seniors who would like to be actively involved in the design and realization of the program. Additionally, training and information sessions were offered in the Spring of 2019.  A Senior-led “Islands Greenhouse Committee” is being established with a Chair and members who are all seniors themselves.

Phase 2 (September 1 to Mid-October, 2020)

Construction of the Greenhouse itself, including land preparation, foundation work, structure itself.

Phase 3 (October, 2020 until February, 2021

This includes activities focussed on allotting individual and communal spaces within the Greenhouse, organizing the soil and preparation (including in-kind labour for raised beds), strengthening the Committee mandate and decision-making, and initiating usage.

Phase 4 (2021 Ongoing)

This is the ongoing activity of managing usage, maintaining the facility, planning and directing skills-based and educational workshops and partnerships, and initiating new projects and ongoing outreach to Seniors and community members.

The next few months will involve subsequent meetings with seniors and the Islands Greenhouse Committee who, supported by the Freeport Community Development Association, will create a mandate, liaise with other seniors beyond the Committee, be directly involved in designing the Greenhouse interior, organizing how the Greenhouse will be used by seniors (individual and/or communal sections), creating raised beds, delivering soil, obtaining seeds, watering, maintenance, and organizing senior/community meetings and workshops on community gardening

Want to help?

Donate to our project on our page: