"Without support and funding from Harvest, we would be unable to develop, promote and sustain initiatives to address health issues and work toward a healthier future for Martinsville and Henry County. "
- Barbara Jackman, Executive Director - MHC Coalition for Health and Wellness
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Gateway's New Greenhouse promises Oodles of Annuals

August 6, 2004

By DOUGLAS HAIRSTON
Bulletin Staff Writer

A greenhouse to a landscaper is like a lawn tractor to a gardener -- it multiplies the produce with double the fun.

Gateway's New GreenhouseThat is why Lois Christensen, executive director of Gateway Streetscape Foundation, is all worked up these days over the possibilities now available to her organization, which is dedicated to sprucing up Martinsville and Henry County.

Thanks to a $10,000 Harvest Foundation grant, the Martinsville City Public Works Department and a bit of labor from the inmates at the city farm, Gateway now has an 18-foot by 24-foot greenhouse.

"I'm tickled to have it," said Christensen on Thursday as she surveyed the structure, making plans for its various uses. "I'm looking forward to growing some unusual stuff that I can't find around here -- like decorative bell peppers."

Located at Gateway's tree farm on Clearview Drive, the structure is nearly completed. All that is left to be done before the greenhouse is put to work breeding a new generation of ornamental plants, said Christensen, is to connect the facility to city water, put in propane bottles for the heater and erect benches and shelves for the plants.

Workers with the city public works department built the facility without charge, including installing electrical and water lines, Christensen said. The inmates at the city prison farm next door to the tree farm will help put up the benches and shelves, she added.

Part of Christensen's excitement stems from this being the first time she has run a greenhouse, a facility that she primarily plans to use in the winter to grow spring and fall annuals, she said. In the summers, she and her staff of one and a Virginia Tech intern are busy tending the beautification organization's many projects around the community.

Two new projects likely to keep the greenhouse slam-full is the West Church Street facelift and the community greening program, a two-year, $50,500 project again funded by The Harvest Foundation.

In the West Church Street program -- an uptown revitalization effort funded mostly by a federal block grant -- Gateway will look to top off the renovations to sidewalks, buildings and intersections with greenery.

The community greening program is an expansion of Gateway's current beautification projects around Martinsville and Henry County, Christensen said. One undertaking planned for that expansion, for example, is a garden memorial for local law enforcement and other safety officials who fell in the line of duty, she said.




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