Todd Howard with students Chasity, Cody, Jason, Chris and Matt

 Today was a great day in David, KY. Today was the first day of the Greenhouse Mentoring Project-a collaboration between St. Vincent Mission’s Grow Appalachia Program, The David School and Todd Howard of HF Farm & Garden.
It all started when Diantha Daniels, The David School’s principal, and I were brainstorming one evening about ways we could encourage her students to become gardeners. I mentioned that I had a line item in my Grow Appalachia grant called “Youth Assistants” that was earmarked for students who could help out in the gardens of some of our participants who do not have the physical strength that some gardening tasks need but are a treasure trove of gardening wisdom and knowledge.
A few days later, Todd came in to my office to visit and asked if I knew anyone who could use a part time job helping him out at the greenhouse. He has to maintain a ‘real job” until his farming venture solidifies and had been working until two in the morning in the greenhouse and didn’t think he could keep it up too much longer. Todd is one of the people here in Floyd County that mourns the loss of agricultural programs in our public schools so when I suggested mentoring the David students, he was game.
Diantha, Todd and I had a few meetings to settle things like release and permission forms, duties and responsibilities of the students as well as the adults and what each of our roles would be in this venture. We decided that the initial program would go until May 31st, the end of the greenhouse season for Todd. Diantha announced the project to the entire student body at the David School and culled the applicants to five student she believed would be consistent in attendance and be willing to work. She had each of them write a letter to Todd stating why they wanted to be a part of the program and I was pleased to note that while the money was a motivator, it was not the primary reason the kids wanted to be on the team. They were looking at the bigger picture of the experience they would gain because of their involvement-both in work experience and as an opportunity to hone their job searching skills.

Cody and Chris take lunch

Yesterday, after school, the students and parents met with us to finalize the deal. They were told what we expected of them and what they could expect of us. The parents were very supportive of their kids being a part of this project and we all left excited. This morning at a little before nine o’clock all five kids were dressed appropriately and ready to work. It was great. I am really excited about these kids and this opportunity and am deeply grateful to John Paul DeJorio’s vision for Appalachia through the Grow Appalachia program that gives me the opportunity to support projects like this one.

Chris putting out cabbages

Here are some more pictures of the team: Cody Carroll, Jason Rife, Matthew Dingus, Christopher Dingus and Chasity Mullins along with Todd Howard.
Cody learns how to wated seed trays

Chasity putting away peppers starts

Jason uses tweezers to place seeds because
“we aren’t good enough to use the vibrating
thing yet”

Matt works on tomato transplants