By Chris Henry
South Kitsap Helpline announced Wednesday that it has finalized purchase of the Port Orchard Nursery.
The food bank has been working since last spring to raise funds to buy the landmark establishment, opened as a nursery in 1949 by the Greseth the family.
Helpline received a $300,000 grant from the Birkenfeld Trust in May, which helped jump start the fund-raising effort.
The sale includes the business site, complete with a two-story home, a store, three large commercial greenhouses, a lath house and plant beds. The nursery is on a bus line and near other social services and free meal programs, which will be a boon to Helpline clients, said Director Jennifer Hardison, in an e-mailed press release.
“This purchase will positively impact the lives and health of thousands in our community and beyond, while dramatically expanding Helpline’s services currently offered,” Hardison said.
In purchasing the nursery, Helpline’s board of directors hopes to provide food bank clients and local meal programs with fresh local produce year ‘round. Vegetable starts grown from seed will be offered to community gardens and P-patches throughout Kitsap County.
The existing home on the site will house agency offices and a clothing bank. The current storefront will be renovated to create a choice-based, self-serve food bank. A teaching facility, complete with a commercial kitchen will be constructed for use by food bank clients and the general public.
The food bank will generate revenue by selling flowers, plants, produce and vegetable starts grown and sold both on-site and off-site at local farmers markets.
“This will help to bring in more consistent revenue to fund our expanding programs,” Hardison said. “Additionally, we plan to sell items we grow at a local food co-op and will have contracts with local restaurants for fresh herbs and produce.”
Additional opportunities for revenue include offering paid classes and workshops to the public, as well as renting out the commercial kitchen.
Food bank clients and others who volunteer at the nursery will gain valuable skills in horticulture and landscaping that can be transferred to paid positions, Hardison said.
For more information, visit www.skhelpline.org or call (360) 876-4089.