Mindful Waste and Smart Farm, both focused on local sustainability, have partnered to create the Smart Mindful Greenhouse that will allow them to grow produce year-round and enable the launch of a vermiculture-learning center.
Mindful Waste was created to educate people about the impact of food waste on the environment, ways to prevent food waste and connect unwanted, edible food with those who need it. They have been actively working with Barrington 220 schools, where almost 40% of student lunches are thrown away. Mindful Waste adult and student volunteers rescue food that would otherwise end up in a landfill. They have donated recovered food to Barrington area hunger relief agencies or organizations in need, such as the Cuba Township Food Pantry, the Barrington Township Food Pantry, Greencastle Senior Living Communities in Barrington and Palatine, F.I.S.H. Food Pantry in Carpentersville, and Mount Saint Joseph in Lake Zurich. They have helped area schools create composting programs and teach students about the benefits of composting the 50-60% of waste created at the school. Vermiculture, the worm’s role in composting, is an important part of the process.
Smart Farm of Barrington is focused on cultivating a healthy, eco-friendly community that offers adults and children learning opportunities in sustainable gardening and donates fresh produce they grow to support neighbors in need through local food pantries. In 2017, they harvested close to 8,700 lbs. of fresh produce, all of it donated to Barrington area food pantries. Located on the campus of Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, they are taking on an additional 10 acres thanks to a generous lease opportunity offered and will be able to increase production and donations. They will also have the space to house the new Smart Mindful Greenhouse & Vermiculture Learning Center.
"We are so excited to provide this resource to the community, and can't wait to welcome visitors," Mindful Waste co-founder Jennifer Kainz shared. "Many thanks to our generous community for their support of this endeavor!"
Through this new partnership, Smart Farm will be provided with another efficient, on-site method for composting organic matter, an area Mindful Waste knows well. The greenhouse will provide a physical location where people can learn about the full cycle of food production, from starting seeds through the creation of finished compost. They plan to offer camps and seminars to utilize the greenhouse as a hands-on learning center.