Omaha sustainability nonprofit finds permanent home, plans to expand programming

It's been years in the making for an Omaha nonprofit to find a permanent headquarters and the day has finally come.
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For Omaha Permaculture, establishing a permanent headquarters has been years in the making. But now, it’s finally happened.

The North Omaha-based nonprofit celebrated the closing of its property over the weekend and they already have big plans in place to expand the work they do.

“We’re here, and we’ve finally established a foothold here in North Omaha, and we hope to be a Mecca for everything sustainability here in the Midwest,” says founder Gus Von Roenn on Wednesday.

The organization takes unused parcels of land from across the city and transforms them into spaces where community members can gather, or can grow their own food at community gardens.

“Something like this really shows people how we can take a dilapidated property that was once a concrete dump or railroad depot, and turn it around, grow food, and show people how we’re trying to change the environment,” says Clark Williams, the site manager and Omaha Permaculture’s beekeeper.

Their headquarters isn’t entirely new to them, they’ve been using the space for the last three years, always hoping it would officially become theirs.

“This property is going to serve as our logistical headquarters so that we can more effectively maintain those vacant properties, they’re mostly in the lower-income parts of town and are more difficult to keep clean, trash-free, and looking dignified. This property will help us provide and maintain equipment that keeps those properties clean,” Von Roenn adds.

Located at 41st and Grant Streets, the several-acre property has chickens, bees, greenhouses, and food.

Since they obtained the property, they’ll now be able to continue their work in the winter months and offer new programs to help teach sustainability practices.

“This should be a great place for people to kind of learn more about what they can do in their own backyard, neighborhood, and their own block. We’re trying to demonstrate many sustainability concepts here, not just about what to do on your landscape with the land and the trees, but also how to reduce your footprint in water conservation and energy sustainability, renewable energy,” Von Roenn says.

The plan is to turn the building into a community center with a community kitchen, cooler, and a classroom. Things that can be used when it’s not growing season.

“I think being able to have our greenhouses and sustainability workshops in winter really demonstrates what true sustainability is capable of and how you can use every part of the year to further your ambitions in improving your neighborhood and community,” Von Roenn told 6 News last year.

“[We] can start showing people how we can combat this food desert we have here in North Omaha,” Williams adds.

“It’s wonderful to finally be here, patience is not my strongest virtue, but three years of actually being on this property and thinking that it might someday be our home, it was worth the wait.”

The first step is to replace the roof and insulate the building on the property so it can be useful this coming winter.

Von Roenn says gaining more capital will help them achieve the amenities they know will benefit the community.

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