One of my favorite things about working with the Grow Appalachia Program at St. Vincent Mission is all the opportunities we have to pass on knowledge. Yesterday we began the second year of the Garden Mentoring Program between The David School and Todd Howard of HF Farm & Garden.
Five students were selected for the program this year with two of them being second year participants. The students are brought to the greenhouse during their last class period and receive educational credits for participation in the program plus a small stipend from Grow Appalachia as an incentive. The David School also has a small kitchen garden that helps with the school lunch program and all students are required to work both in the garden and the kitchen as part of their education plan.
On the first day of the Mentoring Program, Todd showed the students around the greenhouse and then put them to work. They filled potting trays with soil, planted seeds with tweezers and transplanted starts to larger trays. They even got the scent of organic gardening when it came time to soak the trays in fish emulsion water.
In the weeks to come the students will learn all stages of greenhouse work and this year they will have the opportunity to work outside on Todd’s demonstration farm location. In addition to gardening, the students will learn important job skills like proper attire, working with the public, proper use and care of tools and time keeping. They will also learn the importance of communication on the job, especially when they are going to be late or not able to come to work. Diantha Daniels, the Principal of The David School said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain valuable life skills that they would not be able to get due to the lack of job opportunities in our area for teens.”