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Dayton Foodbank Adds New Greenhouse To Their Urban Farm

The entrance of the new Beverly K. Greenehouse at the Dayton Foodbank. It's attached to a larger warehouse building. A person walks in from the left, and in the foreground is asphalt from an old parking lot.
Alejandro Figueroa
The entrance of the new Beverly K. Greenehouse at the Dayton Foodbank.

The Dayton Foodbank revealed its new hydroponic greenhouse on Monday. With the new space, the Foodbank is planning to serve more fresh, locally grown vegetables to residents facing food insecurity in the Miami Valley.

The Foodbank’s urban farm sits on what used to be an old asphalt parking lot. Instead of parked cars, today there are rows of fruits and vegetables, and even a composter made out of a recycled shipping container.

The Foodbank’s latest addition is a 6,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse, with a staff of up to six people growing leafy greens. It will be named the Beverly K. Greenehouse, in honor of a Dayton businessman’s wife, Tom Greene, who donated funds for the greenhouse.

James Hoffer is the garden manager at the Foodbank. He said vegetables such as lettuce and spinach are nutritious foods that food insecure households often don’t get enough of.

“It's one of the main things that people miss in their diets the most,” Hoffer said. “So we looked at what's tough for us to distribute and what was tough for us to get and keep fresh. But then also, you know, what's going to give people the nutrients that they need.”

The greenhouse will begin operation in early September. The Foodbank expects to produce up to 100,000 heads of lettuce a year.

The greenhouse is part of the ongoing expansion of the Foodbank’s urban farm operation. For the upcoming winter, Hoffer said there are plans to double the garden beds in an effort to provide more than just shelf stable food items to families in need of food.

Food reporter Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America. He particularly covers the efforts by local organizations and government agencies to address a problem that has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic.