Greenhouse will be cornerstone for “Urban Gardening” initiative

On Saturday morning there was a new building put up at the First Baptist Church, 1401 Perry Street in Davenport. A greenhouse graces its grounds as part of an initiative between the PUNCH group, the US Department of Agriculture and the National Baptist Conference.

The erection of a greenhouse and tool shed is a collaborative project involving all the churches in PUNCH (People Uniting Neighborhood Churches) around an exciting community-building effort that it is hoped will spread to other parts of the community. Along with First Baptist, other churches involved include First Christian Church, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, First Presbyterian, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. John’s United Methodist, and Third Missionary Baptist Church.

“This project came into being as a result of a presentation by the USDA and members of the National Baptist Conference”, said Ralph Kelly of First Baptist. “We are all grateful to Third Missionary Baptist Church for coordinating the presentation.”

Ken Washburn is the project coordinator for the project at First Baptist. “A greenhouse will in effect extend the growing season on both the front and back ends, allowing for the cultivation and harvesting of a broader array of crops over a longer period. Essential to the project is access to a sufficient supply of water, tools and of course, soil.” First Baptist, which has had a community garden for several years, has these in abundance and is eager to share.

The intention is to prepare the area, build the greenhouse and the tool shed, and then plant the crop. PUNCH group volunteers from all the churches will plant and tend the greenhouse garden, and welcome neighbors and other volunteers from the neighborhood to assist in the effort.

There is a lot of experience coming to the project, including the expertise of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral’s Dean John Horn. Prior to his investiture, Dean Horn was a Botany and Biology instructor, and is now a Professor Emeritus at St. Ambrose University, where he had taught. “I am looking forward instructing in the effort. It will be a bit like coming home, and it helps that such an initiative is squarely within the mission of the churches.”

The ground-breaking will take place at 10am on Saturday on the easterly lawn of the First Baptist Church. It is anticipated the greenhouse will not only increase the food supply of healthy produce, but will also teach people of all ages how to grow crops, and in the process build stronger community among people of the neighborhood.

Additional information can be obtained from Ralph Kelly 563 370 7420, Rogers Kirk 563 324-2919 or Scott Tunnicliff 563-370-2098.