By: Kayla Jones | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: July 2016
Fresh produce sprouts from the Blooming Acres gardens each week.
Blooming Acres: Where Inclusion Comes to Thrive, is a new vocational program that started in fall 2015 by A New Leaf. The organization received an innovation grant from Tulsa Area United Way in December 2014 for a Community Supported Agriculture Program, Blooming Acres. As experts in horticulture and as a means of training adults with disabilities to work, A New Leaf is taking a groundbreaking approach to solving systemic problems of poor health and unemployment among individuals with developmental disabilities and a lack of fresh produce in communities with an innovative and unique farm, to provide fresh produce to low-income community members.
Blooming Acres offers the community several different ways to be involved! Community members can purchase full and/or petite garden shares for each growing season. Individuals that purchase a share will receive the season’s menu of weekly fresh produce from the Blooming Acres gardens delivered fresh to their door! Full shares serve families of 4 to 6 and petite shares serve 1 to 2 person families. The individuals or businesses that purchase a share can purchase for their households or they can have their share donated to local food banks and other nonprofits.
In the spring of 2016 Blooming Acres supported 14 families as well as the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and a portion of A New Leaf’s residential clients. The summer menu and shares will support 18 families as well as the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and A New Leaf’s residential clients. Not even a year old, Blooming Acres has expanded to 25 raised beds, 20 potato barrels and developing three empty acres into thriving row crops. Throughout the fall, spring and summer seasons, Blooming Acres will produce over 1,000 pounds of produce.
The A New Leaf client teams that have poured their hard work and sweat into the new program say the best part is harvest and delivering the produce they have created. The full produce menus of fresh herbs, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, beans and soon corn, squash, peppers and even watermelon, keep the workers and participants excited to see what they will get in their next week’s delivery. As the last of the new potatoes were harvested one client exclaimed,“I’m a farmer!”
“The excitement and pride of what the clients are producing is priceless to see,” CEO Mary Ogle said. “With the state budget cuts that we have faced along with other agencies, successes like these deserve to be celebrated.”
A New Leaf, Inc. provides individuals with disabilities marketable job training in a horticulture environment, conducts community employment placement, and affords residential services to increase independence and individual choices. Founded in 1979, A New Leaf, Inc. provides programming in a greenhouse environment serving as a vocational training center for adults with developmental disabilities.
A New Leaf is excited to be achieving their goal of giving back to local nonprofits, low-income community members and creating additional jobs for individuals with developmental disabilities. Community involvement is of high value to this organization. To purchase a share, or simply come out to see the planting process and progress Blooming Acres is making for the Broken Arrow and Tulsa community, contact A New Leaf today.
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