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West Duluth greenhouse to provide access, jobs in harsh weather

Construction continues on the deep-winter greenhouse near 45th Avenue West and Grand Avenue. The south-facing greenhouse will rely only on the sun to stay warm. Insulated rock will be used to keep temperatures up to 100 degrees to grow greens in the winter. (Teri Cadeau/Weekly Observer)

Construction on a deep-winter greenhouse is well underway in Duluth.

The walls and roof of the greenhouse, near 45th Avenue West and Grand Avenue, are up. Crews are waiting for the ground to thaw to add irrigation utilities, according to Steve Lorber, the products and farmers market manager for Seeds for Success, a program run by Community Action Duluth.

Lorber expects some seedlings to be planted this spring and summer, but most of the greenhouse plantings will commence in the fall.

"I almost don't believe it ... it's been a heck of a process and so it really shows the perseverance of people wanting to see food access issues in this community, and the perseverance of this community in general around caring about food," Lorber said. The project began five or six years ago, he said.

The greenhouse will help supply the Lincoln Park Winter Farmers Market, which the group started last winter. They already supply the market with some vegetables that can be stored easily — potatoes, squash, garlic, etc. — but the greenhouse will give the group the ability to grow more fresh vegetables — lettuces, spinaches, kale — throughout the winter.

"We're going to bring in some fresh greens for the market to increase healthier food access," Lorber said.

The greenhouse will almost exclusively be used in the winter.

"It really gets almost too hot (in summer) ... but the winter here is so long — it's the majority of the year," Lorber said.

The idea of a deep-winter greenhouse developed from conversations among the city of Duluth, members of the Fair Food Access campaign, the Junior League of Duluth and the Seeds of Success program with Community Action Duluth. The south-facing greenhouse will rely only on the sun to stay warm. Insulated rock will be used to keep temperatures up to 100 degrees to grow greens in the winter.

The greenhouse will be managed by Community Action Duluth's Seeds of Success program, which helps unemployed Duluthians by providing transitional employment where they grow vegetables in vacant lots.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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