The project seemed simple, build a greenhouse. For three Wilmington College Students and two members of New St. John Baptist Church the project proved to be both challenging and rewarding. On November 23, 2013, three young women left Wilmington College to embark on a frigid “urban experience” in Cincinnati. Their goals: to build a greenhouse and learn about urban Ohio.
Today we went to Cincinnati to build a greenhouse from scratch. I did not know what to expect, but I am so glad I went. Building the greenhouse was really fun. I’m glad Julie and Casey (members of New. St. John Baptist Church) came to help. It was great to see the people we were helping and how excited they were about the project. It was awesome teaching others about agriculture and seeing them enjoy it. It was rewarding to teach William the basics of herbs and leafy greens and the removal of dead tomato plants for composting. Urban agriculture is an excellent way to grow food and grow hope.
Buying local food is also important, because it helps the local economy. Buying Local can strengthen and sustain the community economically. Local foods are also healthier for you when consumed fresh because they maintain their nutrients. Eating local honey can even help ease your allergies. By buying local you support the creation of local jobs and keep jobs in the area by ensuring that the producers can continue to sell in the community next year. Buying local can also help build relationships and introduce consumers to the local growers and processors.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit Cincinnati. I did not realize what the city had to offer including Findlay Market. I thought the market was interesting. You could purchase many kinds of raw or cooked foods. The market had a lot of fresh produce that reminded me of the markets at home, but there was definitely more variety and culture represented at Findlay Market. Finally, learning about gentrification and the increase of middle-class residents into urban neighborhoods was interesting. I didn’t think about the displacement of low-income residents. It was a great day, capped off with a trip to Mt. Adams to view Cincinnati from the top of the hill.
I traveled to Cincinnati with two other members of the (Students Taking Active Responsibility) STAR Program and Tony Staubach to perform community service and learn more about the surrounding community. Through this activity, myself and fellow STAR members were able to act upon the mission of our group.
The first part of our day in Cincinnati consisted of volunteer work. We built a small greenhouse for a community garden in order to protect growing parsley from the freezing winter temperatures. To begin this task, we traveled to Lowes where we gathered the necessary materials to build the greenhouse. Then the real work began. We measured and cut pieces of wood, screwed them together, and attached construction plastic to the outside of the frame to complete the project. From beginning to end, the greenhouse took a few hours to complete; however, if it were not for the help of two local people, it would have taken much longer.
After the greenhouse was complete, the members of the STAR program and I were led on a tour of Cincinnati by Tony, who showed us a grand view of the city while providing many historical facts about Cincinnati. We also had the opportunity to experience Findlay Market, a large market featuring various vendors selling fresh meats, vegetables, baked goods, and crafts, proving that local agriculture can exist even in large cities. Finally, we tasted some of the local fare when we stopped for lunch at a local pizza chain before heading back to Wilmington.
Before going on this trip, I expected to help out a community by building a greenhouse, but I did not expect anything else to come out of this trip. However, as the day progressed, and even when the day was over, I realized that much more came from this experience. Not only did we help a community build a greenhouse, we also shared our agricultural knowledge with the community, learned various construction skills such as using a saw and building a supported structure, fine-tuned life skills such as patience, teamwork, persistence, and critical thinking, while, most importantly, having fun at the same time. I would definitely do it all again if I could!