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Lookout Mountain Community Services revitalizing greenhouse

by Christi McEntyre


Brad Robertson of Burkhart Farms explains to Eddie Price (far right) and fellow members of the Lookout Mountain Community Services greenhouse committee, how to restore their greenhouse. (Messenger photo/Christi McEntyre)


About a dozen members of the Lookout Mountain Community Services Peer Support Program have banded together to revitalize a derelict greenhouse at the organization’s Cornerstone building.

The building, at 806 E. Villanow St. in LaFayette, provides adult services and daytime peer support groups for individuals from Dade, Walker, Catoosa and Chattooga counties undergoing mental health and substance abuse recovery.

One of the site’s main features is a large, modern-style greenhouse which has unfortunately seen little use in recent years. Now, a few Lookout Mountain Community Services consumers are hoping to change that.

With the help of Brad Robertson of Burkhart Farms in Rock Spring, Ga., on Friday, Oct. 11, members of the newly-formed greenhouse committee began clearing out dessicated plants and building a compost heap. Their goal is to bring the greenhouse back to working order and grow a variety of garden plants, herbs and vegetables for sale to the general public come spring.

A few of the consumers attempted to grow plants this past summer and sell them, explained greenhouse committee leader Eddie Price.

“I’ve been here for two-and-a-half years,” said Price. “Nobody was using it, and we finally started using it this past year.”

Unfortunately, they got a late start this summer, and found that the plants they were offering were no longer in demand by that time.

“We had a big drive to raise money for the peer program so we can go on outings and things, and we did this and a big yard sale. We were very generous on negotiating prices,” he laughed.

As of Friday, Oct. 11, an array of skeletized husks of herbs and vegetables still sat in their growing trays, unsold and abandoned.

When Price decided that he wanted the group to try again, Maura Kalafut, peer support program leader, brought in outside assistance to provide help in setting up the greenhouse and getting plants started. Thus, Robertson came to speak to the Lookout Mountain Community Services consumers and provide practical advice, including reversing the flow of the fans in the greenhouse and starting their plants with tiny seedlings called plugs, which are easier for beginners than growing from seed.

“We’re really excited about the prospect of doing this up and doing it right,” Price said.

Price and Kalafut are hopeful that not only will the greenhouse provide a source of pride for the consumers and a revenue stream from a plant sale, but also help get the word out about the presense of the peer program and the good work that it provides.

“We wanted people to see that hey, the peer program, not only are we making money, but these are productive people here,” Price said. “Because of the stigma with mental health in the community, it’s still got a long way to go. So we thought this would be a great way to promote this place.”

If all goes well, plants will be available for public purchase in the spring.

For more information on Lookout Mountain Community Services or the Adult Recovery Peer Program, contact Maura Kalafut at 706-639-2108, ext. 110.

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