The North Platte Natural Resource District’s Greener Garden Greenhouse is out to change the face of agriculture in the Panhandle.
In the greenhouse, you will find bananas, papaya, dragon fruit, pomegranates, limes and lemons the size of cantaloupe, among other plants more suitable for Nebraska soil.
The uniqueness of the greenhouse has garnered worldwide attention during its four years here, greenhouse manager Jeni Berge said.
“I think our last tour was a group from Germany. It’s kind of interesting from the agritourism aspect. There have been a lot of people traveling here to see it,” she said.
The greenhouse, though, is much more than a tourist attraction and a test plot for what can be grown in the area. Most of the produce is donated to local organizations, Berge said. “Before the pandemic, we donated to the (West Nebraska) Veterans Home, but they stopped accepting donations because of COVID. We did also donate to the Migrant Headstart program a few times because they have a kind of a short season,” she said.
“We also donated a whole bunch of plants to the WNCC community garden, and also to CAPWN for people that maybe aren’t able to get some plants. We do donate quite a few,” she said.
“These could be for greenhouses or a sun porch,” Berge said. “You can have them outside right now and bring them inside and take care of them (when the weather turns colder). You just need a sunny place to put it or a grow light.” NRD general manager John Berge said the greenhouse was made possible by the generosity of local donors, as well as a grant.
“Our goals were to demonstrate that a different kind of agriculture can exist, even in this part of the state, and also to be able to provide food resources to those in need. We’re also continually doing sort of ongoing agronomic research about what goes well in a greenhouse in this part of the world and the economics of it,” he said.
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