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Roosevelt Growhouse grows community and good food too

May 13, 2015 by Fara Illich

growhouse

When Kenny Barrett cofounded Roosevelt Growhouse with Kelly Placke in 2008, neither of them really expected it to grow into what it is today.

“It just got bigger and bigger,” Barrett said. “It grew organically in every sense of that word.”

With Barrett’s business and marketing background and Placke’s knowledge of farming practices, the two purchased a 1920s-era bungalow on a quarter acre near Roosevelt Row and set out on a “public art experiment.”

A pink hollyhock blooms in the Roosevelt Growhouse gardens. (Photo: Fara Illich)

A pink hollyhock blooms in the Roosevelt Growhouse gardens. (Photo: Fara Illich)

“It was a genuine curiosity about finding out where our food comes from and an interest in contributing to the revitalization of Roosevelt Row,” Barrett said. “I didn’t imagine we would still be going in 2015.”

Over the past seven years, Growhouse blossomed into a sustainable community garden, residence, cooperative retail space and even an Airbnb.

Hundreds of community members and volunteers helped foster its development and continue to support its ever-evolving transformation.

From the development of the vintage boutique, Growop, to beekeeping and starting an aquaponics system (run by Bioscience High School students) — Growhouse didn’t end up looking quite like the original plan, according to Barrett. But the surprising twists of fate have made for a beautiful journey.

In keeping with the tradition of new and innovative endeavors, Growhouse is hosting its first all-inclusive farm-to-table dinner called CultivEAT Friday, May 15.

In addition to tours of the garden and student presentations by Bioscience High School, which is an educational partner, guests of CultivEAT can expect a truly exceptional four-course dining experience.

Growop boutique is located inside the Growhouse bungalow. (Photo: Fara Illich)

Growop boutique is located inside the Growhouse bungalow. (Photo: Fara Illich)

Made from a “bounty of local goodness” by Pizzeria Bianco Chef Robbie Tutlewski, this is just one more way Growhouse is helping promote the local food movement in Downtown Phoenix.

While advance tickets are no longer available, you can still donate to the cause.

Proceeds benefit hands-on educational programs with Bioscience High School and other partners, in addition to the Evans Churchill Community Association, which works to improve and protect the neighborhood.

If you want to get your hands dirty and learn more about urban agriculture, show up on Sundays during volunteer hours from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (seasonal). Growhouse is located at 902 N. Sixth Street and open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 12-7 p.m.


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