New Horizons For New Hampshire formally celebrated the official ribbon cutting of a 30’ x 72’ polycarbonate High Tunnel Greenhouse that was donated by Rimol Greenhouse Systems in early 2013. The structure houses produce that is used directly for New Horizons, a nonprofit organization that carries its own soup kitchen and food pantry. Construction was completed in August 2013.
Among the attendants on hand included Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, New Horizons For New Hampshire Executive Director Charlie Sherman and the owners of Rimol Greenhouses, Bob Rimol and Mike Marett. New Horizons volunteers, staff and board members also attended the public ceremony.
“There was a building on this lot that was basically a mess,” Sherman explained. “It was condemned, full of fleas and bedbugs, but it was torn down after the city bought it. Basically, I had a conversation with Mike Marett, who used to be a volunteer driver for New Horizons For New Hampshire. We ended up with a donation from Rimol Greenhouses and the rest is what you see here today.”
Rimol and Marett, who are no strangers to donating high tunnel greenhouses across the United States, felt it was necessary to pay back the city of Manchester. Rimol Greenhouses, now 20 years in business, moved its operations to Manchester's Amoskeag Business Incubator (ABI) in 1997. ABI, now known as Alpha Loft, serves as a launching pad for startup businesses and gave Rimol the chance to get the company into the greenhouse manufacturing field.
“This is simply a way to give back to the city and to pay it forward,” Rimol said. “It’s a little gesture on our part to donate the greenhouse and the labor to build it. We want to see it through and make it successful. It helps the neighborhood, gets a lot of people interested and now kids are coming in to learn the farming basics.”
“Many years ago, when the city helped us out with the Amoskeag Business Incubator, it helped give us a chance to get involved in greenhouse manufacturing. There are many kind and generous people that helped get us going.”
The high tunnel greenhouse is home to a variety of fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, carrots and herbs. Plants that are grown just outside of the greenhouse are zucchini and squash. Local volunteers cultivate the crops throughout the year to assure the New Horizons soup kitchen, located adjacent to the greenhouse, receives fresh produce on a regular basis.
“All I want to say is the volunteers that come in everyday are the winds beneath my wings,” said Marett. “What you see is accrued to their labor and I’m very grateful for that.”
This urban farm is the only one its kind to exist in a major New Hampshire city. Construction first started in August of 2013 after the partnership with New Horizons was founded earlier that year.
“This is an urban farm,” said Rimol. “By bringing in a greenhouse that produces food to help New Horizons, we have now added value and provided food to a local population of homeless and disadvantaged people.”