March 15, 2016
The Big Garden will soon put down roots in its new home at 5602 Read Street in north-central Omaha. This comes after a nearly two-year search.
The Big Garden has long outgrown the office space at 26th & Farnam Streets that it has occupied for more than 10 years. While the office does have a garage for storing tools, it lacks basic necessities for operating community gardens, including running water and greenhouse space. Up to now, Big Garden staff have traveled to multiple greenhouses across Omaha each week to water seedlings and plants. Likewise, Big Garden educators have been forced to prepare for classes, including simple food preparation, in a small garage hallway. Other staff have built hundreds of raised beds out of the same cramped garage.
Cait Caughey, Big Garden Education Coordinator says, “We are so excited to move to a larger space! We will be able to reach more children through our programming, and our work will be much more efficient."
In the fall of 2015, after exploring several locations in North Omaha that proved untenable, a little serendipity came into play. The campus search committee stumbled upon a for-sale property just north of Sorensen Parkway in Omaha. The property, just under two acres in size, was home to a florist and garden nursery business at the time. The owner was looking to retire. The buildings include: two serviceable greenhouses, a 2800 square ft. garage, an 1100 square ft. outbuilding, and an 800 square ft. home.
The home will become offices for the Big Garden staff, the outbuilding will become an education center, and the garage will house tools, vehicles, and educational materials. The land is large and idyllic, with room for chickens, a large demonstration garden, outdoor events, a permaculture garden, picnic tables, and on-site classes.
The purchase and renovation of the property at 5602 Read Street is expected to cost approximately $400,000. Renovation plans include repairs to the home’s roof, a retaining wall, and ultimately updating the restrooms in the education building. The campus committee is exploring options for repairing or rebuilding the greenhouses. In recent months, the Big Garden has secured $150,000 toward the purchase and renovation.
Nathan Morgan, Executive Director, says, “We are excited about this opportunity to expand our reach and have a greater impact in fighting hunger in the Omaha area. We are grateful to the individuals and foundations who have supported our work and helped us reach this milestone.”
The Big Garden will hold a ribbon-cutting and ceremonial planting of the first seeds at the new campus at 4pm, Friday, April 8th. All are invited to attend.