Mobile Greenhouse Supports Community Garden

The Green Urban Lunch Box community garden tours the town with a mobile greenhouse.

| July/August 2016

Urban Lunchbox

A school-bus-turned-greenhouse shows the community how to grow fresh food.

Photo by Sarah Radcliff

A healthy relationship with food can take a while for a person to develop. Cultivating the same relationship for an entire community is even more of a challenge, but one that comes with enormous rewards. For Shawn Peterson, founder and director of The Green Urban Lunch Box – a nonprofit program based in Salt Lake City, Utah – the relationship between people and their food is of the utmost importance.

Peterson first got the idea for The Green Urban Lunch Box when he started thinking about the food-consumer relationship in today’s society. He started wondering where our food comes from, what we’re really eating, and whether people have access to healthy, good-quality food. “The concern was how can we grow our own food, and how can we have better control over what we’re eating?” Thus, the Green Urban Lunch Box was born, and developing healthy personal relationships with food is still at the basis of the program today.

Get with the program

The Green Urban Lunch Box program started small, in a 35-foot school bus converted into a mobile greenhouse. Its mission was to get people excited about urban agriculture and the many benefits of growing their own food. The program expanded when a senior citizen in the community asked for help in turning a large yard into garden space.

Peterson realized his program could fulfill this type of request and more. The Green Urban Lunch Box’s first large-scale program came to fruition, called the Back-Farm Program.

The Back-Farm Program pairs college students and other beginner gardeners with senior citizens in the community who want to turn their yard space into a food garden. Together, and with the program’s staff, the pair learns sustainable gardening methods while growing fruits and vegetables.

A weekly training program helps teach the teams how to grow fresh produce, which is then divided between the homeowner and program volunteers, and the rest is donated to a hunger-relief program.

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