With a farm in Duvall and market stands in the Central District, Clean Greens works to provide fresh, healthy produce to people in the neighborhood. Now, the organization is working to retrofit a house across the street from their home base at New Hope Baptist Church on 21st Ave just north of Yesler.
The G.R.E.A.N. (Growing and Retrofitting Eco-friendly Agricultural Neighborhoods) House will have a commercial kitchen to serve as place where community members can learn about food justice and learn hands-on how to prepare healthy food.
With the help of community members, Clean Greens grows vegetables in Duvall and sells them in the Central District at market stands and as weekly CSA boxes. (I spent several Saturdays biking their CSA’s to various homes around the CD, First Hill and Capitol Hill as a member of Fork + Frame. It was a blast.)
Despite the farm already having financial woes, The Reverend Robert Jeffrey, Executive Director of Clean Greens, said now is the time to start work on the G.R.E.A.N. House.
“In this time, we almost have to do everything at the same time,” he told attendees at the organization’s annual Harvest Dinner in early November. “We can’t wait.”
The house is currently being rehabbed into an energy-efficient space, and Clean Greens hopes to someday open a solar-powered community cafe inside, and the kitchen would be a learning opportunity for community members looking to get experience in a commercial kitchen. The house will also be a community space for things like open mic and jazz nights as well as holding support groups for families in crisis, the Rev. Jeffrey said.
However, the project has encountered funding issues. At the annual Clean Greens Harvest Dinner celebrating the end of the growing and market season, organizers announced a capital campaign to raise money for the project. They are also looking for donations of commercial kitchenware like large refrigerators and freezers.
People interested in donating to the project can call Clean Greens at 206.323.0534 or email [email protected].
Why is this important?
While maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for all people, critical health issues exist specifically among the African-American community, and especially in lower-income, urban spaces. Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and more run rampant amongst the inner-city. Ironically, it is these same communities that witness aggressive advertising from fast food corporations on a regular basis. Too often, the convenience, cost, and accessibility of these companies compete with and beat out the healthier option of natural, self-prepared meals. The G.R.E.A.N. House intends to combat this issue by eventually developing a café that will serve salads, sandwiches, and other meal products at reasonable prices prepared by participants who have been trained to cook with natural ingredients. As a result, we will make healthier meals convenient and affordable, which will assist in inspiring the community to make health a priority.
What are the other benefits to the G.R.E.A.N. House?
Not to be forgotten are the benefits of learning as a community. Perhaps the most significant theme of the G.R.E.A.N. House is its intent to encourage community productivity. By providing a space with resources, instructors, and active community participation, urban community members will experience the rich value of interacting with one another, collaborating, and enjoying the rewards of working together. The G.R.E.A.N. House will be a facility that is truly dependent upon teamwork.
Youth Learn Valuable Skills
Sustainable living is more than just a contemporary trend. It is a priority in our efforts to preserve the earth and our selves. In addition to training on agricultural practices and preparing natural foods, the G.R.E.A.N. House will also provide technical classes on retrofitting homes. Such knowledge will serve youth well, as it is becoming the interest of many large companies and homeowners to create and sustain a more eco-friendly living environment.
How can you help?
To bring our vision of the G.R.E.A.N. House into fruition, we are in need of commercial kitchenware such as large refrigerators, freezers, storage, etc. Of course, donations are always helpful as well. We are calling upon friends and sponsors to help us create a space that will foster healthy, productive, and self-efficient communities.