By Katie Sobiech
Hattie’s Garden is a sustainable agriculture garden that grows chemical-free produce. The program is also a Hattie Larlham vocational program for adults with developmental disabilities.
Employees with developmental disabilities work with Hattie Larlham job coaches to learn gardening skills, such as proper tool use and safety, soil preparation, tilling and digging, greenhouse watering and care, seedling care, weeding and harvesting fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Employees also assist with selling the produce to the public. The benefits of a healthy diet and the importance of harvesting crops at their optimum nutrient level are woven into the program.
In 2011, Hattie Larlham partnered with Crown Point Ecology Center and the County of Summit Developmental Disabilities Board to plant the first Hattie’s Garden, which is located at the Crown Point Ecology Center. The garden currently employs seven people with developmental disabilities and their job coaches. Hattie’s Gardens also maintains a flock of 20 free-range, laying hens. These hens produce eggs that are collected and packaged in cartons for sale with the produce at Hattie’s Gardens.
In 2013, another Hattie’s Garden was planted on the property of Old Trail School in Bath, Ohio, three miles from the first location. Hattie Larlham’s partnership with Old Trail School and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park expands employment for people with developmental disabilities as well as educates Old Trail School students about sustainable gardening and the benefits of healthy nutrition.
Hattie’s Gardens adheres to sustainable growing practices, including crop rotation to prevent soil depletion, composting, the use of beneficial insects to manage insect populations that could damage crops, spreading mulches to suppress weeds and using disease-resistant cultivators.
Hattie’s Gardens is part of the sustainable vision of Northeast Ohio:
- • Organic practices eliminate the input of harmful chemicals into the environment .
- • Producing and purchasing locally reduces the use of fossil fuels.
- • Our large-scale, community-based composting efforts reduce waste.
Produce Sales and Distribution
Produce grown and harvested at Hattie’s Gardens is sold to community outlets, including Hattie’s Cafés & Gifts, the Hattie Larlham Center for Children with Disabilities and local farmers’ markets. If you own or work for a farmers’ market, restaurant or speciality grocery store in the greater Akron, Ohio, area and would like to learn more about carrying sustainable produce from Hattie’s Gardens, please contact Hattie Larlham. Produce is also available for employees and donated to local food banks.
If you have any story ideas, questions, or comments you can contact: Katie@akroneur.com.