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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Aquaponics Greenhouse Co-op in Worcester, MA

1) The Greenhouse will … increased access to healthy food in Worcester.

Worcester Roots and Stone Soup, in collaboration with several organizations, are building a pilot aquaponic greenhouse at Stone Soup Community Center, 4 King St, Worcester to create jobs and provide healthy food to low income residents.

What's an aquaponics system? It's a growing system that mimics a natural symbiotic relationship between fish and plants. You can harvest produce and fish! No outside fertilizers are needed and since the water cycles through the system, it uses 90% less water.


2) The Greenhouse will … be an educational space.

We will increase knowledge, awareness and investment in healthy food options for Bell Hill area residents and Worcester youth. Neighborhood residents, area community gardeners and a cooperative project all need greenhouse space for seedlings, youth education about nature and urban agriculture. This project will advance Stone Soup's offering of community resources that improve our neighborhood and Worcester. A crucial part of our mission is creating economic self-sufficiency through the building of democratic workplaces, green jobs and community ownership. The aquaponics greenhouse provides a place for youth and residents to gain experience to create their vision of a cooperative business and achieve this economic self-sufficiency. Community gardeners from the area, Stone Soup members, and the aforementioned greenhouse co-op members have been asking for this resource since 2007. Also, no other greenhouse accessible to the community exists in the city.

This project will directly involve about 30 community gardeners of all ages, about 60 youth ages 11-17 in educational programs, and about 8 people ages 15-45 in the cooperative business enterprise itself.


3) The Greenhouse will … be a model for a new economy.

A group has been meeting for over a year that has a desire to create a mission-based cooperative business. The co-op would be owned by these workers and selling food would be the main way it will sustain itself. This pilot greenhouse will provide a test area for commercial crops for a job creation initiative that they plan to grow to other larger spaces in Worcester. The greenhouse cooperative is part of a wider strategy to create employee-owned businesses that are sustainable and help lift people out of poverty by building equity and stability.


4) The Greenhouse will … be a collaborative project.

This aquaponics greenhouse project is a collaboration between 6 organizations: Worcester Roots, Green Revitalize / Urban Laboratory, Stone Soup Community Center, Technocopia (the Worcester Makers Space), Diggers Landscaping Cooperative, WPI's IQP teams, and YouthBuild Worcester. Roots and Stone Soup are also founding members of Worcester Green And Solidarity Economy Alliance, building a new green economy that creates sustainable jobs for youth and others.

Worcester Roots Project (WRP) is a collective of youth and adult organizers whose mission is to create opportunities for economic, social and environmental justice. We send these roots of opportunity into our communities, sprouting up co-operatively run and green projects and initiatives that build toward our vision of neighborhoods that are safe for living, working, and playing. We achieve our mission through education and outreach, youth empowerment and leadership training, green businesses creation, lead remediation research, and community organizing.

The mission of Stone Soup is to build grassroots power by connecting and enriching groups and individuals in our communities who are working for social justice in Worcester, MA. We are building community and economies based in cooperation and creativity while resisting oppression and gentrification. Stone Soup brings together under one roof 14 different Worcester leadership development and organizing groups doing social, environmental and economic justice work in the city of Worcester MA. Since moving to 4 King Street in 2006, Stone Soup has become an integral and positive part of the King Street neighborhood in Main South, Worcester.


5) The Greenhouse will … need your help to be finished.

We're 90% there but need your contribution to get across the finish line! Thanks to the support of Stone Soup member organizations, UMass Memorial Health Care, Greater Worcester Community Foundation's Worcester County Food Bank Fund to End Hunger, The Stoddard Charitable Trust, New England Grassroots Environment Fund and the Fuller Foundation, we've secured most of the funding. We were also generously donated a Sturdi-Built ( greenhouse structure from Granite Academy that saved us thousands of dollars. We need your help to raise the last $3,000!

We have a strong track record of completing our projects and building successful mission-based cooperatives. Stone Soup recently finished a deep energy retrofit fire rebuild of our 8,000 sqare foot community center building and are now using 70% less energy than before. Worcester Roots has incubated Future Focus Media Cooperative and is incubating Diggers Landscaping Cooperative, both of which have been profitable now in their third years.

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