June 22, 2018
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Labor council’s greenhouse taking root

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — The seed was planted months ago, and with help from generous donations and volunteers, the idea for a greenhouse soon will blossom into reality, Food AND Medicine director Jack McKay said Monday.

“Growing locally is something we’ve talked about,” said McKay, who also serves as the Eastern Maine Labor Council president.

Lane Construction of Hermon donated the cement for the 24-by-17-foot greenhouse foundation, CCB of Old Town donated concrete forms and scaffolding, and “we’ve received donated labor from the carpenter union, Local 1996,” he said.

“We’ve had over 20 people who pitched in, in one form or another,” McKay said.

The foundation is done and the walls are framed, and soon the walls will be completed and the roof will be installed.

Building supplies were paid for with a $2,500 grant from the Broad Reach Foundation, and technical support was provided by Paul Volkhausen of Happy Town Farm in Orland and Tom Young at Orizaba Farm in Bangor.

The goal is to have the greenhouse complete by October so a winter crop can be planted, McKay said.

“This year will be an experimental crop,” he said. Hardy Chinese greens, spinach and hardy lettuce are planned.

The food grown will be used at Solidarity Center events — May Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving Solidarity Harvest — and for community-supported agriculture.

“When there is a surplus, we’ll provide them to families in need or food banks,” McKay said.

Another reason for building a greenhouse in Brewer is to “provide a model for other people,” he said. “We’d be delighted for people to come over and see how it works so they can put up their own greenhouse.”

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