Jimmy Dorrell, a recent guest on Downtown Depot, continues to redevelop the North Waco neighborhood in an organic way while pursuing "gentrification with justice."
“This is a community that is very much coming back,” Dorrell said this morning when addressing about 75 attendees at the grand opening of Urban R.E.A.P (Renewable Energy and Agriculture Project).
The sustainability project, a result of collaboration between Mission Waco and the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, also received contributions from Baylor's School of Engineering at Computer Science.
“The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club strives to partner with organizations that focus on making a real difference in their community,” said Mark Parsons, president of Green Mountain Energy Sun Club and general manager of Green Mountain Energy Company, in a press release. “Mission Waco is a force for good in the Waco area, and we’re proud to help support them in becoming more sustainable.”
Urban R.E.A.P. consists of an aquaponics greenhouse, a solar energy array, a rainwater catchment and purification system, and a composting system and training center. Fertilizer, plants, and produce from the greenhouse can be purchased at Urban R.E.A.P. as well as at the Jubilee Food Market next door.
One particularly impressive feature of Urban R.E.A.P. is the aquaponics system invented by Glynn Barber of Environmental Controlled Sustainable Integrated Agricultural (ECSIA). A 500-gallon tank holds over 300 hybrid Striped Bass whose unconsumed fish feed and waste is turned into plant food and nitrates that service beds of kale, Swiss chard, and basil.
Barber’s proprietary system provides fuel for 16,000 to 20,000 pounds of produce per year while only using 7 amps of power, all of which come from the solar panel array.
“Anybody can become a farmer,” said Barber. “That’s what we’re about. Feeding the world one community at a time.”
Whether it’s through volunteering at Urban R.E.A.P., purchasing compost and plants, or simply shopping at the Jubilee Food Market, Dorrell said that there is a way for everyone to get involved in creating a healthier, more sustainable community.
“Part of the goal of this project is to help citizens in our community learn,” Dorrell said. “This is not just to show you what we did. It’s to show other people how they can do similar things.”