The abandoned greenhouse on Briggs Court has been going through a slow and steady transformation since 2011.
Central Rivers Farmshed explains on its website that the Greenhouse Project has been an ongoing endeavor to strengthen the community’s relationship with food in all forms.
The CPS Cafe and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point have long been a part of this project in various ways. Layne Cozzolino, the executive director of the Farmshed, said a large donation came from the Student Government Association at the start of the project, and students from all colleges frequently intern and volunteer.
Cozzolino said the greenhouse is not expected to be fully functional until next year, but the space is being utilized. Community members are welcome to join the Community Potluck Series the second Tuesday of each month.
In addition, The Green Collective will use the space to grow vegetables with a plant sale taking place on Memorial Day.
The project has plans to purchase unsold items from the farmers market and make them available for sale at the food pantry. The site will be used to educate the community on food preservation through programs led by students and trained volunteers.
Students studying wellness at UWSP are offered a unique opportunity for hands-on training with a practicum in the CPS Cafe. Student involvement at the greenhouse will serve to strengthen this program, said Megan Ball, a dietetics major and student manager at the cafe.
Ball looks to be involved with future programs in the greenhouse. She said it is important for students to work with the community because it allows students to gain necessary skills not attainable in a classroom.
“Community involvement is one aspect for us to experience different opportunities for careers, and lets us discover our individual passions,” Ball said.
When the greenhouse does reach its first fully-functional day, the immediate goals of the project will be to support local producers and encourage cooking and preserving food.
In addition, Cozzolino said people can plan around seasonality and save money by buying in bulk. From programs like this, the local community will find camaraderie with their neighbors and students, as well as being a part of reducing food waste.
There has been a healthy relationship between the university and Farmshed for years, and it is likely to grow stronger with time.
“We are grateful for the students and faculty who have helped Farmshed through our growth,” Cozzolino said.