MaryBeth Matzek: Green Bay group seeks to turn vacant armory into indoor farm

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion

A long-neglected building in Green Bay may soon find new life as an indoor farm and agribusiness.

The Farmory, which would be located in an old armory on Chicago Street near downtown Green Bay, received a $50,000 grant recently from the United States Conference of Mayors to help get the project up and running. NeighborWorks Green Bay, a non-profit committed to revitalizing neighborhoods and promoting homeownership, would run the operation, which would grow produce inside the building and then sell it to fund on-going operations.

Noel Halvorsen, executive director for NeighborWorks Green Bay, first proposed the idea in 2013. Since then, NeighborWorks America and the Greater Green Bay Basic Needs Giving Partnership have also backed the project. The next step is gathering stakeholders to put together a final plan on how to run the urban farm and figure out how much it will cost.

“The national grant will really help us to put our arms around the project,” he says.

The building was built in 1918 by the Allouez Mineral Springs Company as a bottling plant. After a few years, it closed and stayed empty until a Wisconsin National Guard infantry unit moved in 1927 after their previous armory burned down. The Guard used the 20,000-square-foot building until 1963. Since then, it has sat mostly vacant.

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