Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer
The groundbreaking ceremony for Mission Waco’s new sustainability program, the Urban Renewable Energy and Agricultural Project took place Wednesday near Mission Waco’s Jubilee Market.
Urban REAP will feature an aquaponics greenhouse, solar array, rainwater catchment and purification system, commercial composting system and a training center for school groups. The Urban REAP project is largely funded by the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, although there are other donors, said Jimmy Dorrell, executive director of Mission Waco.
The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club donated $234,000 to the Urban REAP project. The mission of the Sun Club is to “enhance the quality of life through long-term, sustainable solutions that focus on people and the planet,” according to its website. The Sun Club is an independent nonprofit organization that, since its founding in 2002, has donated more than $4 million dollars to over 90 organizations, said Jason Sears, executive director of the Sun Club.
“We’re really looking at folks who want to decrease their environmental footprint, people who want to act as stewards of the environment as well as give back to the communities that they serve,” Sears said.
The Urban REAP greenhouse will be located near Mission Waco’s Jubilee Food Market. In addition to being used for educational purposes, the Urban REAP aquaponics greenhouse will also provide produce for the Jubilee Food Market, Dorrell said.
“We believe that creation care is a part of what it means to be a Christian, and we need a place to show people how to do that,” Dorrell said.
Dorrell said people in urban communities are often uneducated in terms of sustainability.
The new Urban REAP facility will provide an opportunity for people, especially young people, to gain hands-on experience and education regarding sustainability, he said.
“Kids are the way you change the world, so we give them a dream … to understand [sustainability], and they will continue that [dream] once they understand more,” Dorrell said. “It’s going to be very practical things for kids to touch and see and smell.”
Mission Waco is seeking to teach kids to consider the generations behind them and think about how they can contribute to the community rather than what they can get from the community, Dorrell said.
Sears said Urban REAP will take any opportunity to educate and tie together the various aspects of sustainability. “That’s what makes it unique and why we think Mission Waco is such a wonderful partner,” Sears said.
Construction on the project will begin next week. The aquaponics greenhouse is set to be finished in mid-March. All other aspects of the project are set to be completed by May, Dorrell said.