Emergent Structures is designing and building an educational greenhouse that will serve special populations high-school students from the Savannah public school system.
The greenhouse is being built to support an existing highschool training program, and the non-profit organization Design for Ability, which enables youth of special populations to experience hands-on training within green sectors of the agriculture, construction, and artisan industries. Many of the materials that will be used to build the greenhouse have already been reclaimed from other sites around Savannah through collaborative volunteer events organized by Emergent Structures. We already have some great funding partners like IKEA and Hardin Construction!
The design and construction of the greenhouse will become an educational experience in its own right by showcasing sustainable building systems such as passive cooling and heating, photovoltaic energy production, rain water harvesting, and adaptive reuse of materials.
Once completed in spring 2013, the greenhouse will train special population students to grow produce, which will be sold to schools, and the surrounding neighbors (who live in a food desert), and proceeds from these sales will be used to support Design for Ability’s educational programming
Risks and challenges
Our project is highly collaborative and is dependent upon locating
building materials with very specific properties in a timely fashion.
Locating, prepping and building with reclaimed materials from numerous
sites is by far the greatest challenge, yet overcoming that exact
challenge is at the heart of Emergent Structures’ mission.
We have already methodically stored numerous material streams from
locations in and around Savannah, so the task of identifying the
building materials has already largely been achieved! The next challenge
is to properly prepare the materials, and thanks to our collaborative
partners, much of the material designated has already been prepped
during volunteer events! The preparation of the rest of the materials
will be done over the next several months with volunteer work days that
invite the general public and our partners to com on out and put some
elbow grease into! We know we can do it because we’ve done it before.
We are already going through the permitting process, and there’s always
a possibility that our contracting partnership will run into time delays
due to their ‘paying work,’ but these time delays have been built into
the schedule, and we have set our ribbon-cutting date with delays in
this process in mind. We have been extremely diligent in planning for
this construction over the last 7 months, and we’ve done the hard work
of fighting through a lot of early collaborative snags. Everything is
looking good now! Any other ‘snags’? We pride ourselves in creative
adaptation, and have access to an amazing group of committed,
knowledgeable and industrious professionals on our board who have
thrived in similar situations.
Thanks for the question! The structure will be built on E 34th Street between Broad and Reynolds. We are fortunate to have a former board member who is willing to lease the property to Design for Ability for $1/year.
The three high schools that are presently involved are Savannah High, Jenkins, and Beach. Willie Mobley is a job coach with the public school system, and he already trains students from these 3 schools in several places around town. He works directly with transition specialists in the public school system.
Once the greenhouse is complete, Willie and Meagan (founder of Design for Ability) will encourage high school students across Chatham County to participate. The greenhouse will also be used by non-profits like SUGA (Savannah Urban Garden Alliance) and Harambee House for programming of their own, and interested community groups in east Savannah will also have access to the facilities.
Will it be able to stand up to the sometimes rough treatment teenagers can dole out to materials and structures?
We've piloted this kind of project already with an elementary school pergola, seen here: http://www.emergentstructures.org/collaborators/now-open-the-greenest-garden-in-town. ...And it is definitely standing up to a daily parade of elementary school kids! The reclaimed materials we are using for the greenhouse are as strong as anything out there in today's market, if not stronger; primarily redwood and heart pine.
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