|Ever Green House returns to its roots|
|March 25, 2016 Jerry Purvis|
Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Volunteers (left to right) Jeanie Williams, Carol Knaub and Pauline Francisco have been busy cleaning up the Community Ever Green House. Behind them, still growing, is the only fig tree in the area.
Volunteers have been keeping busy at the Community Ever Green House south of Gering – cleaning, weeding and getting the facility back to its original mission of serving as a community space for people who want to grow plants.
The Ever Green House was opened in 1986 by Panhandle Community Services, which later became Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska. The facility has struggled over the years with management. When CAPWN filed for reorganization in 2014, the greenhouse was left behind.
Last December, CAPWN agreed to terminate the facility’s lease with the city. Taking ownership, Gering has been working with the North Platte Natural Resources District for both agencies to find some budgeting authority to keep the facility in operation.
Carol Knaub, who lives in the area, said she often walked by the greenhouse and thought it could use some “spring cleaning.” After she retired last year, she contacted CAPWN and volunteered to clean up the place.
From May until October, she kept busy cleaning inside and out, knocking down the weeds with some help from city staff.
“The thistles outside were taller than I am,” she said. “The city helped with spraying them and coming back to mow them down.”
As she started cleaning outside, Knaub found flowers still growing, but covered by weeds. She called the iris and roses “a jewel to find,” although she admitted to being nervous about stepping through the weeds because of possible snakes.
Knaub made lots of progress that first summer. In January, after Gering had taken over the greenhouse, she approached the Parks Department about continuing her cleanup work. After getting approval, she got busy planting vegetables. When they mature, she plans to pass them out to local senior citizens.
“Geil Elementary School is just up the street,” she said. “It would be nice to have the kids come down and plant some flowers and vegetables. There are a lot of different planting spots outside for them to use.”
Over the years, the greenhouse has hosted a children’s gardening club, as well as both cooking and painting classes. One of the inside highlights that people still talk about is a fully grown fig tree.
Green buds adorn the upper branches, so this year’s fig crop is already in production.
Pauline Francisco, a member of the local AARP Community Action Team also caught the volunteer bug. Talk about the greenhouse stirred interest in other members.
“We learned about the problems and needs with the greenhouse and decided this would be a good project to get involved with,” Francisco said. “I called AARP state headquarters and told them about what we’re doing and they were excited as well. Community service is what they’re about, and they’re coming out to take a look in April.”
Lots of work remains to be done, but this small group is making a difference in bringing back a community meeting place.
“I think it would be great to get people involved again, like it used to be,” Knaub said. “Everybody has to take a first step. If I keep cleaning outside, maybe someone will come by, pull a weed and we’ll grow from there.”
If anyone is interested in reserving a plot for growing flowers or vegetables, or for more information, they can reach Knaub at 308-641-4169.
Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Carol Knaub (left) and Pauline Francisco prepare seeds for later planting outside the Community Ever Green House in Gering. Knaub has been volunteering at the greenhouse since last year and hopes to get more community members involved in its operation.