The greenhouse for the Boys and Girls Home of North Carolina is finally seeing the fruits — and vegetables — of love coming to life.
A greenhouse on campus sat empty for several years. What started out as project soon fizzled out due to a lack of staff and resources, but when Buddy Kennedy came aboard three years ago, he saw it as an opportunity for those who mattered the most: the kids.
Kennedy has been gardening the majority of his life, and always found it to be therapeutic. He said the same approach has worked wonders for the children.
The staff have a rotating schedule for the kids, and keep them as involved as possible. Each one has a chance to get their hands dirty three or four times a week, and they are involved in every aspect of growing the veggies, from seed to produce.
“The kids do the planting, the weeding, and the watering. They are excited to see the fruits of their labor.” says Kennedy.
He works the garden the everyday himself, making sure the plants stay alive, and he is always there if one of the kids is having a bad day, and just needs a little gardening therapy away from everyone else. He hopes one day to also incorporate some animals into the mix, and offer the children more to nurture.
The Boys and Girls Home currently have a distributor who buys their produce, and the home’s Country Store, also located at Lake Waccamaw, sells their wares at the front of the store.
All the vegetables are organic, and the only additives are hard work, sweat, and water. Kennedy plans to set up a produce stand over the next couple weeks, not only for the public to see the positive outcome of the program, but also offer the kids another set of life skills.
“I want them to be involved in all aspects of the business. It will give them a chance to learn management skills, and see how distribution works. We haven’t decided on an exact location yet, but we hope to get things up and running this week or the next.” states Kennedy.
He says the most important thing to him throughout the entire process is that everything goes back to the children.
“The children remind me a lot of the plants when they first arrive. Small and in need of love and attention. The greatest reward for me is to watch the kids grow, just like the plants grow. It’s rewarding to them to see the pay off in the end. It’s the same thing for me, too.”