Landscaping students grow crops for charities | Local News
Fresh pumpkin will be on the menu for local charities in the coming weeks.
Squash, as well as peppers and tomatoes, are grown by Job Corps students enrolled in the landscaping curriculum. When the plants are harvested, they are distributed to a senior citizen center in Braunschweig and several food banks.
Mel Gaines, director of the Brunswick Job Corps Center, said the landscaping program included hands-on work and academics. Many of the students graduate from high school while enrolled in the program.
At least during normal hours, the students are in the community and take part in a variety of projects. Landscaping students bring their skills to the community to help improve local charities, Gaines said.
“We grow a lot more than just plants,” he said.
Students learn to operate heavy equipment, use math skills to measure and cut wood for boxes to grow plants, and even learn to maintain golf courses.
Graduates from the program have a variety of skills that most people their age don’t have, Gaines said. Participants in the program are between 16 and 24 years old.
Kevin Brandon, the landscaping program instructor, said the students built their own raised bed, added the right mix of soil, and planted their plants that they would tend until harvest. He said most of the students enrolled in the landscaping program are from downtown areas and have no landscaping experience.
“Not only do they learn, they get recognition for their training performance,” said Brandon. “There’s a lot of math – real math.”
Evan Vilme, 19, of Atlanta, said he was working on getting a high school diploma while planning a career after graduation.
“I plan to own my own landscaping business,” he said.
Gaines said the center has a good track record of finding jobs and even offers classes for those who want to be their own bosses.
“We have a pretty comprehensive education program here,” he said.
Damien Wiley from Marietta has graduated from high school and received his driver’s license since enrolling on the program. He is scheduled to graduate in August. He too wants to be his own boss.
“I plan to start my own business,” he said. “I will probably do a lot of things.”
Gaines said the pandemic had severely restricted enrollment at the center.
315 students are enrolled at full capacity. There are currently 44 students in the center. Additional courses include construction, heating and cooling, electrical, painting, safety, and a variety of medical career paths.
Roosevelt Harris, the center’s liaison coordinator, said the students enrolled in the landscaping courses were motivated.
“These young men have a strong desire to work,” he said. “Many of these students only need one chance. They are intelligent young men and women. “