We will grow produce that will be sold to local eateries, supermarkets, hospitals and schools. The revenue generated will be used to support SCCAP's mission of providing opportunities for low-income citizens to move toward personal and economic independence. Growing Opportunities is a proud member of the Local Growers Guild.
Beginning in October of 2012, SCCAP staff began gathering information about social business enterprises. Research revealed another Community Action Program in New Jersey was running a thriving greenhouse business called Arthur and Friends that employed people with work barriers. SCCAP leadership became interested in adopting a similar model in a new program that would meet local needs.
After completing a feasibility study, SCCAP began securing seed funding to initiate Growing Opportunities. In October 2013, SCCAP was awarded a $100,000 construction start-up grant through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. SCCAP was also generously awarded $20,000 from the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County for staffing the project. In 2014, the Old National Bank Foundation awarded SCCAP a contribution of $5,000 in support of Growing Opportunities. These funds will support the start-up cost of building greenhouses for a self-sustaining social enterprise. The City of Bloomington Common Council Jack Hopkins Social Services Funding Commitee awarded SCCAP $15,500 to pay for hydroponics equipment.
SCCAP worked with local government and social service agencies to explore feasible sites for the greenhouse on donated or community-owned land. In the summer of 2014, we were given permission by Indiana University and our partner Stone Belt to construct the greenhouse on a vacant parking lot behind Stone Belt at their main location at 2815 E. 10th street in Bloomington. We are currently working to finalize plans for construction.
Growing Opportunities will have the first produce available for our customers by late fall of 2014. Our first crops will also mark the beginning of our employment training program.
Growing Opportunities was awarded a Sustainability Partnership Grant by the City of Bloomington's Department of Economic and Sustainable Development to fund indoor demonstration gardens at Head Start and Stone Belt as small-scale examples of how Growing Opportunities will farm. Head Start students and Stone Belt clients are involved in every step of the hydroponic growing process, including starting seeds, transplanting, harvesting, cooking, and the best part--tasting! Read the Report for the grant here!