David Tobiczyk, vice president of marketing and development for Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania (SWPA), said the greenhouse is a “one of a kind thing” for the organization.
“Some think of us for training and education, and usually greenhouses are not what people think of Goodwill for, but we know that there’s an opportunity to let people know more about how greenhouses work and maybe get a job in that area,” Tobiczyk said.
According to Goodwill, the greenhouse will teach workers how to grow fresh produce and flowers and will help prepare them in careers in horticulture, food service and retail.
It will contain flowers and vegetables that will be used in Goodwill’s “Good-to-Go” Café, the Workforce Development Center and the Lawrenceville Farmers Market.
Tobiczyk said they made sure the greenhouse is accessible for people with disabilities.
“So even people with wheelchairs and other disabilities can work in there and show off their green thumb,” Tobiczyk said.
He said the idea to build the 18-by-30 foot greenhouse came from the Lawrenceville community.
“We were thinking of different things that we could do on site, and one of the things that immediately, the community came to us and asked us if we could have the farmer’s market in our parking lot and got us thinking about perhaps putting a greenhouse together where we could train folks about ways to learn more about horticulture and items like that,” Tobiczyk said.
He said it will also strengthen Goodwill’s “green” image.
“It kind of fits our image of being green and Goodwill for a long time has worked to let people know we’re a great to recycle or reuse clothes and having a greenhouse right on site really reinforces that idea,” Tobiczyk said.
The project was funded by a $50,000 grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and is expected to be in full operation by December 1st.