It may not seem like it now, but soon it will be time for gardeners to get their hands dirty and plant flowers, fruits and vegetables. For some, they've already started.
It seems there's no escaping the snow and cold. Garrett Highland says, "Freezing cold. I'm kind of used to it, but still."
Highland gets a break from the cold when he works inside The Homestead’s greenhouse in Pleasant Hill. He says, "It's my first winter doing this."
The Homestead provides innovative solutions for people with autism...including an opportunity for adults with autism to work on the farm. Highland says, "Basically right now just filling up these flats to grow stuff in them, like onions."
Highland and his fellow crew members spent the winter in the greenhouse, where it's a balmy fifty degrees or more. Vocational Director Eric Armbrecht says, "It's nice to work in here in the winter time, even if it's in the 50's because just with the sweatshirt on, and working hard, it's a great place to work."
Armbrecht says the crew started planting seeds for the bedding plants in late January. They started growing The Homestead mix of lettuce last September. And soon, they'll start working outside. He says, "We need to do field work in about 60 days, and that isn't far away."
The Homestead is also getting ready for its Community Supported Agriculture program where people in the community can buy CSA shares. They'll get a 1/2 bushel of produce throughout the growing season. Armbrecht says, "For a fee of $450 for a single share or $850 for a double share, they can have membership to our farm." Members get in season produce for about twenty weeks.
Armbrecht says the goal is to sell more than 100 CSA shares and about $10,000 worth of bedding plants. He says the money the farm makes goes back into the operation. "So, directly involved with all those adults with autism that work in the department and goes for supplies for this, or goes for the wages."