Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015 10:15 am
By TONY BROWN Staff writer
Diane Francis, board president of Lettuce Dream Inc., has announced that the non-profit has been given about three acres of land near the intersection of East First Street and the Highway 71 bypass to use as the site of a proposed greenhouse operation designed to provide jobs and vocational training for people with developmental and cognitive disabilities.
Francis said the land was donated by Maryville East Side Development, a limited liability corporation owned by Mark and Myles Burnsides, who are creating a retail commercial development in the same area that is to include a carwash, Casey’s General Store and perhaps other businesses as well.
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Francis stated in a release that the Lettuce Dream board of directors is continuing to raise money for construction of a complex consisting of several greenhouses, office space, production and distribution areas, and facilities for education and training.
She said groundbreaking ceremonies at the newly acquired site are planned for sometime in April.
“The board is delighted and so very grateful for this generous donation,” Francis said. “This location could not be better for our greenhouse project.”
Francis has characterized the Lettuce Dream initiative as a regional effort that will seek to sustain itself by marketing hydroponically grown produce to restaurants, grocery stores, schools and food-service vendors.
Hydroponics is a type of agriculture in which plants are grown in nutrient-enriched water instead of soil.
Francis said plans call for the Lettuce Dream operation to grow and harvest produce 365 days a year without the use of herbicides. The idea is to provide employees with agricultural and business skills that will open doors to enhanced employment opportunities.
She said the greenhouse complex will also create new opportunities for volunteerism.
“We sincerely hope the entire community will join us in making this happen,” Francis said.