Frostburg Grows: Grow it Local Greenhouse Project
Frostburg grows is a local green initiative to help convert unused mining land into a new five acre greenhouse and shade complex. Their vision is to train community members for viable and meaningful jobs, and to produce high quality local food and tree seedlings. Frostburg Grows’ mission is to create a regional center for training and production of local, great value food and native trees in the Appalachian Highlands.
Frostburg Grows was established and developed by Frostburg State University, and is partnered with Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council. Formally started to come to life in September of 2012, The Appalachian Center for Ethno botanical studies has given the go ahead for this state of the art facility and six greenhouses have already been established. With this new facility, the local community will be able to be a part of the experience. With this initiative there are environmental, social, and economical objectives for this new enterprise. Implementing a greenhouse facility will help to reduce “Potomac basin flooding, reduce acid mine drainage generation, and reestablish natural forested habitat on stripped mine lands.”
Another incentive of this green project is there will be more sustainable job opportunities, and nontoxic homegrown foods for the Frostburg community residents to enjoy. Environmental restoration is of key importance in this project. Frostburg Grows has been recognized for receiving a sustainability award from the Maryland Sustainable Growth commission for leadership, community planning, and conservation at the commission’s annual forum and awards ceremony back in February of 2014.
According to Corey B Armstrong, Project Coordinator for Frostburg Grows, this initiative is very important. Armstrong said that “The Frostburg Grows Project is pretty diverse. It first started off with looking at water quality in our area and trying to help with the Potomac River watershed. Other important aspects of this project include the environment and how it ties in with the community and the local food and jobs; it’s like a big web and it is all connected.”
Community members will also be able to actively participate in workshops that teach residents how to build and operate tree nurseries and high tunnel greenhouses. In these workshops, farmers will learn the proper techniques on how to grow safe and healthy crops, such as fruits and vegetables, and how to get the most effective use out of their land. Armstrong states “the workshops are really great because of the community involvement and also the economic involvement. What we do is, we have these workshops where we train people how to build their own high tunnels (greenhouses). So, if someone wanted to build one on their own property, they could grow their own food, flowers, or any kind of product that they can then sell. The idea is that they get the economic stimulus or benefit of growing for their own consumption or sale, and we get the benefit of them physically doing the work. So, they will leave with the knowledge, and we are left with the actual greenhouse, so it’s a win-win for everyone.” Working on the Frostburg Grows project is also a great experiential learning experience. Armstrong reveals that “biology students can come out and learn about plant science, and ethnobotany. English majors have practiced grant writing, to chemistry students and water quality, we do a lot with sustainability classes, so all different students from all different majors and fields can benefit from this project.”
Armstrong states that “I enjoy a lot of things about this project; it’s a really cool project. I like the idea that by working one part of the project, it’s benefiting multiple areas. So, if you are growing food, not only does it only help the local food system (the supply of food) it also helps people how to grow their own food. Just by growing some food that we can enjoy, it benefits a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. I like doing the food production, agricultural aspect, and I love being around trees. I think the most important thing about this project is the connection that it makes with different people. It really is a community based project. We are trying to create this model where we can learn and teach people how to grow food and also grow trees, and help with the water quality and the environment….it serves as a model for all of Appalachia.” For more information on Frostburg Grows, please visit http://www.frostburg.edu/aces/frostburg-grows/