New Horizons For New Hampshire's greenhouse, donated by Rimol Greenhouse Systems.
Photo by Bob RimolNew Horizons For New Hampshire, like many food banks across the country, has had to do more with less during the past few years due to several factors, including the economy and better inventory control at grocery stores.
New Horizons Executive Director Charlie Sherman and longtime volunteer and Rimol Greenhouse Systems co-owner Mike Marett were discussing the decreased food donations and the problem with food deserts when Marett had an idea – what if New Horizons was able to grow its own food to supplement its stock?
Rimol Greenhouses manufactures greenhouse systems, and Marett suggested that the company donate one to New Horizons, which operates a homeless shelter, soup kitchen and food bank in Manchester, N.H. Bob Rimol, who founded Rimol Greenhouse Systems in 1994, supported the idea.
“Both Mike and I are believers in paying it forward and giving back to the community,” Rimol says. “The city of Manchester, they’ve been really good to us.”
Rimol says he got his start in the city’s business incubator, a low-cost, low-rent space available for start-ups that allowed him to share facilities while creating his business plan and getting his feet wet.
“I think it’s also really important to emphasize the importance of locally-grown food, whether it’s in the middle of Alaska or anywhere else,” Rimol says. “It’s going to get harder to feed people as time goes on with shifting weather patterns and a growing population and the rising cost of fuel. Locally-grown food is going to be more and more important.”
Rimol donated a $30,000, 30 feet wide by 72 feet long greenhouse and installed it in early September next to New Horizons in a vacant lot where a dilapidated building had been demolished. The land that was once an eyesore will now house the greenhouse and an outdoor garden, and the food produced will likely cut costs for New Horizons, which serves about 267 meals each day and provides food to more than 900 households each month.
The Nor’Easter Greenhouse is not heated, but New Horizons will be able to grow cold weather crops throughout the winter such as kale and lettuce, Rimol says, and tomatoes, cucumbers and more once the weather warms up. The triple-walled, high tunnel greenhouse has exhaust fans and it’s made of polycarbonate, which is not flammable and makes the structure sturdier. The goal was to make the structure user-friendly for New Horizons.
Sherman hopes to use the greenhouse to teach students at local schools about the importance of growing food locally, according to a press release about the donation, and invites the community to volunteer to help operate the greenhouse.
And before the plants started sprouting, people began to pitch in. Outdoor wear retailer and manufacturer Timberland sent 50 volunteers, who finished building the soil beds at New Horizons. Rimol will also continue to oversee the project.
“Mike [Marett] goes over there on a regular basis and will keep his eye on it,” Rimol says. “He’ll make sure their crops are growing. They’ve planted already, but it’s only a couple of miles from our offices, so we like to always check in. I just think it’s the right thing to do.”
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