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Growing Opportunities celebrates greenhouse grand opening

Participants in Growing Opportunities joined organizers and supporters of the new job training program to celebrate the official public opening of their greenhouse in Bloomington Thursday. 

Growing Opportunities, a program of the South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP), provides job training useful for seeking employment in the growing local foods movement. Just as important, it emphasizes much-needed soft skills that are crucial to success in any job. Graduates will receive job placement assistance.

At the Thursday celebration, members of the first class of Growing Opportunities participants, who have completed almost 14 weeks of a 20-week curriculum, spoke with attendees after a ceremony in which several people affiliated with the greenhouse gave remarks. Speakers included Todd Lare, Executive Director, South Central Community Action Program; Jacob Sipe, Executive Director, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority; Leslie Green, CEO, Stone Belt; Cayla Wrightsman, Growing Opportunities client; and Nicole Wooten, Growing Opportunities Manager.

The event marked the first public opportunity to see the 2,880-square foot greenhouse. Ground was broken on the greenhouse at a previous public event on Oct. 30. SCCAP is still seeking additional funding and land for two additional greenhouses.

Growing Opportunities participants have grown Bibb lettuce that has recently started to be sold at Bloomington restaurants and stores, including Bloomingfoods, Feast Bakery Cafe, Lennie’s, Lucky’s Market, Sahara Mart and Upland Brewing. Samples of the Bibb lettuce were provided for tasting at the celebration. They will also soon be offering basil, chard, kale and other greens. Revenue will support ongoing operation to serve new classes of participants.

The City of Bloomington, Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, Geller Foundation, the Glick Fund, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Lucky’s Market, Monroe County Master Gardener Assoc., Old National Bank Foundation and Perry Township have awarded grants to launch and operate Growing Opportunities. IHCDA provided the largest contribution with $100,000 in grant funds.   

The South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP) is a nonprofit organization based in Bloomington that has served low-income people for 50 years. Its mission is to provide opportunities for low-income citizens to move toward personal and economic independence. SCCAP administers Growing Opportunities, Head Start and Thriving Connections (formerly Circles Initiative) in Monroe County, and operates Affordable Housing, Energy Assistance, Individual Development Accounts, Section 8 Housing and Weatherization in Brown, Monroe, Morgan and Owen counties. It serves more than 4,000 households annually and employs about 90 people.