It arrived in boxes. No, not Christmas – the Boys Home greenhouse! On a rare sunny day in February, all the pieces for assembly of a 20’ x 28’ greenhouse with a polycarbonate roof and roll-up side panels arrived at the greenhouse location on Wickline Road. Farm Manager Bonnie Wheatley, alongside Bobby Trice, Director of Support Services, and several maintenance/applied trades staff, spent the afternoon unloading the boxes and strategizing where to store everything for easy access to all the pieces.

The next challenge: how to get all the neatly packaged boxes of pieces to turn into a greenhouse? Luckily, Louis Sarratt stepped in. With 40+ years of construction experience under his belt, plus time spent as a Navy Seabee, Louis was able to organize the project and begin construction.

From the beginning, the greenhouse got a jump start from a variety of people. A group of college students from St. Joseph’s University, in Philadelphia, volunteered at Boys Home for one day as part of a spring break experience. With a group of four students and two staff members, the St. Joseph’s crew worked on assembling and installing the upright frames. More help arrived later in the day in the form of the Boys Home applied trades students. Two Boys Home classes worked side by side with the St. Joseph’s volunteers, learning to use drills, socket wrenches, and levels. To Louis’s amazement, the combined efforts enabled the team to install all of the frames in one day!

As of today, greenhouse construction is progressing steadily. The back panels and the fan have been installed, and the applied trades classes will continue the assembly until everything is complete. If the weather cooperates, the greenhouse will be ready in a matter of weeks.

And just in time – having attended Monday’s workshop on garden planting, Bonnie Wheatley is ready to begin. The new greenhouse will be home to a variety of crops that thrive best in warm temperatures or require a long growing season. Slated for the greenhouse so far are tomatoes, green peppers, cabbage, and eggplant. The Boys Home community is looking forward to some fresh veggies this summer!