Jonas Hochstetler looked around at the eight abandoned greenhouses, thought of the work for a few seconds — and smiled.
Hochstetler and eight other Amish men had just traveled nearly three hours from their hometown of Harmony, Minn., to West St. Paul on Thursday morning, March 21, to begin clearing out and dismantling the greenhouses left over from Wolters Greenhouse & Garden Center, which went out of business a decade ago.
The city owns the property and greenhouses, along Bernard Street and adjacent to Harmon Park, and is allowing the Amish community to take the buildings back to Harmony, where they will be rebuilt and reused for growing organic fruits and vegetables.
No doubt this story makes news because there are Amish involved. But also because we don’t see much of this sort of thing anymore. It turns out both parties win:
West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller said the partnership between the city and Amish community makes sense. The city saves $30,000 in demolition and hauling costs, while Hochstetler’s community gets the greenhouses for their produce operations — free of charge.
“We have some greenhouses, but they’re quite expensive,” said Hochstetler, 53. “So if we can get these basically for labor and the trucking, that really helps.”