Omaha restaurant works toward sustainability by building greenhouse

Year-round fresh produce is certainly a benefit; but at Block 16, ‘it’s about generations to come’
A popular downtown restaurant is trying to become more sustainable by growing its own produce.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 6:43 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A popular downtown restaurant is trying to become more sustainable by growing its own produce.

“You plant a tree for future generations, not for yourself. And that’s kind of what we’re doing here,” said Jess Urban, co-owner of Block 16.

The downtown restaurant is planting more than just a tree; they’re building a greenhouse.

“There’s just so much out there for the environment that you can do on a small scale in your backyard,” she said. “We grew up composting. In the town where I lived, my mom, she might put out the trash bag every two weeks. It’s just something you did with your scraps.”

The greenhouse will provide fresh produce for their restaurant, but it’ll also help the environment. Block 16 partners with Hillside Solutions to try to be zero-waste.

“Rather than just going to a landfill where it’s going to create these nasty gases and do harm, it’s brought to us where we can do good with it. It’s a full-cycle composting process. And this material will be put to use by Block 16 in their garden,” said Maggie Hansen, manager at Hillside Solutions.

In the greenhouse, they’ll be able to grow produce year-round, like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and even citrus fruit, like oranges and lemons.

“Growing our own in this greenhouse will really enhance the flavors and the quality,” Urban said.

It’s not free to do this. Jess and her husband paid more than $6,000 to build the greenhouse and pay more than $300 a month to compost. The greenhouse is a kit that comes in varying sizes and can be bought by other restaurants

But she said despite the cost, it’s an investment into the future.

“It’s not just about us, today and now. It’s about our children and our generations to come, community. Leaving a smaller footprint.”

Composting is something anyone can do. It costs $10 a month to drop off all compostable waste and turn it into something good. Hillside Solutions can compost food scraps, pet waste and yard clippings.