October 2005- September 2010
Need: Design, program design, and program management of two 2500 square foot greenhouses and a training program for one of the largest social service agencies in Chicago. Creation of a new facility for a shelter that serves 200-300 permanent residents and up to 1,500 overnight guests on a yearly basis.
Solution: Worked with architects for two years in the social design of the greenhouses. Trained shelter residents in composting, vermicomposting vegetable production, horticulture, landscaping and carpenter skills using the greenhouses as training grounds.
First growing year – “the soil year”
Collected approximately 30,000 pounds of food waste (from the in-house cafeteria), newspaper, and cardboard waste. Combined with a starter population of 10,000 worms to produce 9000 pounds of worm castings (to use in planting).
Second and third growing years
Organic vegetable, medicinal plant, and fruit production in greenhouses, on rooftop, and in outdoor beds. Tropical and succulent plant propagation for facility greening. Continued production of worms and castings sold to gardeners, schools, and community groups with profits supporting the host organization.