MANCHESTER -- WORKERS ON Tuesday started erecting what might be a first for a New Hampshire city: an inner-city greenhouse designed to grow fruits and vegetables for the poor and homeless.
The 2,160-square-foot greenhouse is going up on a vacant lot just to the west of New Horizons for New Hampshire, which operates a soup kitchen, shelter and pantry for the city.
"We're probably not going to grow everything we need, but this will save a tremendous amount of money," said Executive Director Charlie Sherman. "We serve a tremendous amount of produce — 220 salads a day, seven days a week."
Sherman expects it will take a week for the greenhouse, which is being donated by Rimol Greenhouse Systems of Hooksett, to go up. Other donations come from Bill Trombly Plumbing and Heating, which is doing electrical and plumbing work, Manchester Water Works, and New Horizons board member Paul Hanson, who paid for the lot excavation.
The greenhouse is going up on a lot that the city acquired in 2009 for $360,000 in federal stimulus grants, according to previous news articles. The city at the time spoke about either tearing down a dilapidated apartment building on the site or rehabilitating it.
Sherman said the building eventually came down.
New Horizons considered expansion on the site, but decided against waging a $2 million capital campaign that would be needed to do so.
Aluminum framing will be used to hang the polycarbonate panels — hard plastic that will funnel the sun's rays into the greenhouse. Sherman said he is still working out details, including finding a master gardener to oversee the greenhouse, training volunteers and finding donations for soil, beds and seed.
Sherman said he also hopes to install a fence and security cameras.
Sherman expects to have plants growing by the beginning of the fall. He said lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans will grow in the greenhouse. During the winter, he plans to grow more hardy crops such as kale and cabbage.
Sherman said the Rimol donation amounts to $26,000 in material and labor.
"We are thrilled to be able to work with New Horizons and provide a vehicle for them to increase their self-sufficiency," Rimol owner Mike Marrett said in prepared remarks.
The greenhouse is 30 feet by 72 feet and located at the corner of Manchester and Pine streets.