BUILDING COMMUNITY THROUGH FOOD AND FELLOWSHIP

inCOMMON’s Park Ave Commons Project Embraces Window Farming

BY THERESA FARRAGE, PHOTOGRAPHY BY ARIEL FRIED

Photo by Ariel Fried

Calvin Smothers is the Park Ave Commons director for inCOMMON, a community-based nonprofi t that unites and strengthens vulnerable neighborhoods by listening, building relationships and empowering residents. Photo by Ariel Fried

 

Whether it happens during a conversation over a hot meal or through community gardening, bringing people together and serving others is at the forefront of inCOMMON’s mission.

inCOMMON is a community-based nonprofi t that unites and strengthens vulnerable neighborhoods by listening, building relationships and empowering residents. It began in 2001 in a small church, and is focused on community, social justice and those who are poor. Since inCOMMON’s founding, it continues to stay focused and committed to the people of Omaha through its many programs and outreach eff orts.

One such effort, window farming, is taking root as part of the new Park Ave Commons project. According to in COMMON’s website, the Park Ave Commons project will play a powerful role in the organization’s fight against poverty by ensuring that low-income and vulnerable individuals and families are given the tools, opportunities and support for life success. Since Park Ave Commons doesn’t currently have traditional garden space available, inCOMMON plans to turn to window farming as a means to grow food.

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Serving between 75 and 100 meals each. Monday night, the community meal offers a gathering place for locals to enjoy a hot meal and good conversation.

 

Calvin Smothers, who serves as the Park Ave Commons director, said the one thing that the new space has is plenty of windows that receive a great amount of sunlight each day.

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A recent Monday found locals enjoying a spaghetti dinner—meatballs and all—provided by Creighton University.

 

According to WindowFarms.com, a window farm is a vertical indoor garden that allows for year-round growing using natural light, the climate control of your living space and organic soil. It’s a hydroponic system that uses nutrient-spiked water that is pumped up from a reservoir at the base of the system. It then trickles down from bottle to bottle. WindowFarms.com emphasizes that the water and nutrients that aren’t absorbed collect in a reservoir, and they will be pumped through again at the next interval.

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Laura Weiss enjoys a laugh with friends and good food at a Monday evening community meal.

 

Electricity-wise, a window farm will only cost you a few additional dollars per year, and should only take a few hours to a day to set up in your window space. Maintenance is minimal, but you do have to remember to tend to your plants, change the water once a week and clean the system monthly.

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A Park Avenue neighborhood local and regular at the community meal.

Purchased window farms can run $199 for a one-column starter bundle, but Calvin and his crew found instructions on how to make their own to keep the cost down. Window farms will be assembled at inCOMMON’s office space, where the staff will learn how to use them before building them with the Park Ave Commons residents.

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