^ The new Together We Grow greenhouse at Heritage Middle School in Newark will offer gardening programs for adults with disabilities, veterans and area school children.
A few years back, I had lunch with my friend Pam Roberts.
We were both going through some transition at the time, so we were grateful for a break in the action and the chance to chat.
I distinctly remember the conversation, because we talked about our food, and the future of our food. We both had a passion to do something positive to impact what that future could look like. We discussed how one man set out to change things, and in the process created a way to be fed by growing all of his food in a greenhouse… and he even began raising fish using only the irrigation process that had been integrated into the greenhouse.
Although our paths went in slightly different directions, we have stayed connected through the growth of our visions. She and her husband, Mike, went on to establish a non-profit called Together We Grow, which builds community relationships and provides local, organic food for the surrounding neighborhoods via community gardens. I pursued my own company, called The Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet, which provides education and personal coaching in support of grain-free, soy-free dietary lifestyles, along with our gourmet products that are free of gluten, grains, soy, and dairy. I also personally began gardening organically, which was great timing since I could now collaborate with the Roberts (who were now gardening all over the city of Newark).
^ Greenhouse grand opening April 28, 2017.
I’ve been a board member of Together We Grow since it was established, and it’s been exciting to have a first-hand view of the progression of a number of initiatives. I’m very proud of my friends for all they have done to pursue their vision. On Friday, April 28, 2017, the newest part of their vision was brought to life: a greenhouse built to serve veterans, adults with disabilities, students, and the local community of Newark. The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by many, including the mayor of Newark and the superintendent of Newark city schools, among several other leaders within the community.
The greenhouse offers an array of programs, one of which kicked off on May 1st, called “Here We Grow, ” for adults with developmental disabilities. The program is designed to teach gardening basics, such as starting seedlings and how to grow and maintain vegetable gardens.
Other programs include a “Victory Garden For Veterans,” which will meet weekly and provide a gathering place, which will allow veterans to grow seasonal flowers and participate in other therapeutic gardening projects. A program for Newark City School students will educate them on the operations and maintenance of the community gardens.
Future plans, according to Pam, are said to include raising tilapia…which will likely use the integrated irrigation process of the greenhouse.
There’s nothing like seeing a conversation come full circle and a vision come to life! Congratulations to the Roberts and the community of Newark for supporting this fantastic initiative.
For more information, visit their website at togetherwegrowgardens.org.