Students' gardening program benefits homeless community in West Palm Beach

Rosarian Academy, Lord's Place team up for Seed of Hope program
Posted at 8:27 AM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 08:45:51-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Students at Rosarian Academy are stepping up to help the homeless community through a gardening program.

The Seed of Hope program is a collaborative effort from first- through sixth-grade students and a nonprofit called The Lord's Place.

Every day, students water the vegetables, pull weeds and measure the nutrients in the soil. They then harvest the organic vegetables and donate them to the Transitional Work Experience Program.

What started as a small pot of plants at Rosarian Academy, is now several large, irrigated garden boxes. The tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, mint, and more are used to help teach and feed people struggling with homelessness by giving them a real-world culinary experience.

Rosarian Academy first grade teacher Mildred Acosta says the gardening program is teaching students lessons that will last them a lifetime.

"I hope that this teaches them that there is a greater world out there than their world here and that it's important that they give back," Acosta said. "It doesn't matter how old they are, that they have the potential to provide service. That they're able to help others."

The Culinary Transitional Work Experience Program is a 6-to-9-month program which gives participants an opportunity to learn various culinary skills, while also focusing on decision making abilities and behavior modifications.

Head Chef and Director of Food Services Robert Coleman says the produce from the students at Rosarian Academy is what really makes the program a success.

"Students in my program get an opportunity to work with garden fresh produce that they don't normally get an opportunity to work with," Coleman said. "There's a big difference between what's grown in a garden, what's grown in a farm, and what's grown in a commercial farm."

Coleman says many graduates of the program have gone on to successful culinary carriers. One recent graduate is now a kitchen supervisor at a nursing facility, and another is a chef on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach.