Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Ginkgo Greenhouse

Ginkgo Organic Gardens now has a greenhouse!

At 9 feet wide, 14.5 feet long, and 7 feet high, the Ginkgo Greenhouse (GG) should be large enough to house a variety of plants and equipment. Framed in aluminum and sporting polycarbonate panels and roof vents, GG will allow us to start plants like tomatoes and peppers on site. No longer will we need to rely on windowsills and other bits of sunny space borrowed during the late winter, or worry over transporting fragile flats of seedlings to the garden.

Construction of GG required almost the entire 2015 season. Work was done mostly on Saturdays after harvest and Sundays, but we worked on a few evenings, too. We started to prepare the site in May and finished (more or less; I suspect that there will always be things to tweak or repair) in early October.

Many people and organizations contributed to the financing and construction of the GG. If you volunteered during the 2015 growing season, I probably asked you to help me with some greenhouse-related task.

I'd like to name everyone who helped, but I'm certain to forget someone--after all, the project did require six months. I offer what I hope are pre-emptive apologies to anyone whose name I left out.

Thanks to the following:

1. The Culinary Trust--whose funds from its 2014 Richard Sax Food Action Grant made the greenhouse possible.
2. Dave Snyder--farmer, poet, networker, and Ginkgo emeritus--who wrote the original grant application.
3. Britt Willey, Joe Zarrow, and Ben Helphand of NeighborSpace, who contributed a testimonial for the grant application.
4. Lori Cannon of Vital Bridges, who contributed a testimonial for the application.
5. Tim Iteen, Treasurer for the Ginkgo Steering Committee, who managed the accounting for our purchases of the greenhouse, concrete, and gravel.
6. Eduardo Castillo of Palmer House Hilton, who built GG's foundation. This involved doing things like removing from post-holes enormous blocks of concrete left over from the building that originally occupied the garden site.
7. Eric Chapman and Bryan Helpert, who along with Ginkgo Steering Committee member Ivy Czekanski are the reason why the GG is upright at all, because they figured out how to connect the side panels to the back and front (something that eluded me completely).
8. Johanna Luks and Stephanie Salant, who contributed both individually and as volunteer coordinators for groups from Chicago Cares. Chicago Cares volunteers did things like help break down the old "dodecahedron" bed that was where GG is today and grade the site.
9. Volunteers from the Second City Dream Team, who helped prepare the GG site.
10. Jordan Grossman, who helped me to make sense of the more infuriating assembly diagrams in the multilingual instruction manual, which I am sure is responsible for bursts of umlaut-larded invective all over the Western gardening world.
11. Griffin Grossman, who helped connect the frame to the foundation, when he was not designing our ornamental beds.
12. John Cahill, who did everything from wrangling massive boxes of greenhouse components from the delivery truck to wielding a 50-lb breaker bar to bust up buried concrete blocks to fashioning replacement fittings for window panels from clothes hangers.
13. Karen Poulson, Evelyn Yang, and Dave Short of the Ginkgo Steering Committee, who in addition to helping with delivery and construction managed volunteers on Saturday workdays so that I could obsess over my green whale.

Here's to seedlings on site in 2016.

The view from inside

Part of the disassembled greenhouse. They were delivered too late in 2014 for us to start construction that year.

Ed lays out the metal base on the old site of the dodecahedron bed.

John ponders the huge blocks of concrete underground that impede construction of the foundation.
the completed base,  filled with pea gravel flooring

the multi-lingual, cryptic, and exasperating instruction manual
Eric, Bryan, and Ivy wrestle frame panels together, using techniques not covered at all in the instruction manual.

the completed frame

The last panel was installed (the first time, anyway) late on a Sunday evening.