| VISIT NEBRASKA |
A 25-foot tall, 25-foot wide fig tree resides in the unlikeliest places in western Nebraska. The Gering Community Ever Green House is home to the local attraction, which people from all over the world have come to visit.
Story by: Irene North
Carol Knaub, a master gardener, learned the tree’s history from long-time volunteer Alice Reuter. While no one quite knows the whole story, the fig tree arrived in Gering in the 1980s from the Botanical Gardens in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
When it arrived in Gering, the fig tree was said to be the only one in the state of Nebraska. When Knaub began working at the greenhouse about eight years ago, no one had tended to the tree for nearly two years.
“The figs fell and rotted on the floor,” she said. “I cleaned it up, scraped the floor, and got it going again.”
The fig tree, which needs an average of six to eight hours of sunlight per day, has a perfect home in Gering where a passive solar system, the only known facility of its kind in Nebraska, provides the warmth the fig tree craves.
There are four clippings of the fig tree Knaub started this year. Two are on-site with the hope they will grow and produce figs in the future. The giant fig tree is well-cared for by all involved. The city of Gering trims it each year. Knaub and other volunteers help keep it healthy and pick the figs at harvest time. The money earned, goes back into the greenhouse to keep it running so it can continue serving those in need.
The greenhouse is also a fun stop for visitors because it cultivates a wide range of plants native to western Nebraska, which attracts and feeds endangered pollinators, and visitors can view a non-commercial operation directly benefiting the community.
The greenhouse also grows a variety of fruit, including peaches, lemons, limes, oranges, and pineapples, in addition to their vegetables from seed and flowering plants.5
All vegetables at the Gering Community Ever Green House are harvested for use locally at the Gering United Methodist Church’s weekly soup suppers, local community members, and weekly pantry boxes delivered to families in need by the First Baptist Church in Scottsbluff.
“Everything here is donated to food banks and churches,” Knaub said. “We grew over 3,000 pounds (of food) last year.”
There is also a park area and a walk-through arbor, with architectural sculptures slated to be installed by late 2022, which makes the Gering Community Ever Green House an attractive wedding location and peaceful spot to rest for a while.
Knaub keeps meticulous records so those who follow in her footsteps will know the entire story of The Gering Community Ever Green House. Knaub is usually at the greenhouse in the mornings, but there are no set hours as the greenhouse is run entirely by volunteers.
| SOURCES AND MORE INFORMATION
The Gering Community Ever Green House is located at 1210 D Street, Gering, Nebraska 69341