Down On the Farm

August 2nd, 2017

By Ross Sheasley, Horticulture Community Engagement Training Site

Visiting the farms has been one of the highlights of the Horticulture Community Engagement Training Site and the consumers are always excited on farm days. This year marks our first full season going out to the farms, since last year we began visiting the farms midway through the season.

Due to a crazy winter with several 70 degree days in February, and lots of work to do to prepare for the growing season, the Horticulture Community Engagement Training Site got an early start at farming this year. So in addition to all the plants we had been growing in the greenhouse at the Katzenbach School for the Deaf, we started working with Farmer Jeff and his crew at Fernbrook Farm in mid-February.

Speaking of the greenhouse, the Horticulture crew spent most of February, March and April in the greenhouse learning how to transplant and pot several thousand seedlings so they were ready for planting in May and June. Over the last several months the consumers have been able to watch as the little seedlings have grown and the greenhouse is now a mass of flowers.

At Fernbrook this past Spring, we learned the process of the growing season from the very start. We started the season learning about maintenance, mulching and cleaning up the various planting fields. In the hoop house, we learned how to fill seed trays and containers with potting soil in preparation for seeding. We also learned how to seed the trays and transplant seedlings into pots.

There is a lot more learning to come. What we’ve been learning from working with Farmer Jeff has coincided and complemented much of what we do in the Katzenbach greenhouse. We are also working with Farmer Matt at Cherry Grove Organic Farm this season. Once the weather warmed up, it was time to do some planting and work out in the fields. That’s when the consumers really started to see their efforts grow!

We had potted up quite a selection of annual plants … mostly sun-lovers like marigolds, geraniums and gazanias, but several shade-lovers like impatiens and begonias, too.

The Horticulture consumers planted at various Arc Mercer locations, including the main office at 180 Ewingville Road, Alice’s Garden, Step Ahead and the residences. With a full season under way, all of the Horticulture consumers are having fun and learning a lot.

Want to learn more about how our Day Habilitation Program can help you get involved in community activities? Call The Arc Mercer Family Support Department at 609-406-0181, ext. 112, or email