By: Jessie Meriwether
Some churches have fellowship halls. We have a greenhouse. It is one of the things we were most excited about when we were first viewing this property. It’s big, functional, and can hold a lot of people. It’s perfect for events, hospitality hour, and tables full of seedlings for the farm. When the flowers are in full bloom, the sun is shining, and we roll up the canvas sides, it is truly beautiful. We’ve even had photographers ask to use it for styled wedding photo shoots because of the diffused light and neutral background. The greenhouse is truly a gift.
With this gift, however, comes some extra responsibility and I’m not talking about the fact that we have to clean it. Initially, it was purely an agricultural greenhouse. Now, we want to have large gatherings of people and use it for many non-agricultural things. As with all “changes of use,” the Greensboro Fire Marshal has some thoughts and opinions on this.
When we first bought the property, the greenhouse had an official occupancy of 30. Only 30! In order to get this fixed, we worked with an architect to draw up a proposal for raising the occupancy to 300. If we want to avoid putting in a sprinkler system ($100,000+), adding attached bathrooms, and a host of other issues, we need to make some changes to the space inside. I won’t bore you with all the details, but our current permit (which is what allows us to legally use the space while we are updating it) entails about $15,000 of work.
As we work on raising the money needed to complete this work, you will notice some changes being made – the most notable being the metal divider walls going up. We will be dividing the space into “gathering space” and “agricultural space” (see architect plan) and we believe it will both beautify and clarify the use of all 6,000 square feet. If you would like to help with this project – either by volunteering time or donating, please talk to me or our Park Director, MacEntyre Allen!
Our Chancellor, Jim Hundley, is helping us draft official contracts for rentals and use by outside organizations, but we love being able to offer this space as a resource for all church members, Abbey organizations, and Park and Farm teams. Slowly but surely, we are working to make our spaces a beautiful reflection of the Creator, seeking to draw others closer to Him and His vision for our community and church. He is so good!