Posted by Jamie Tripp on Jul 18, 2018
Our Vocational Brown bag lunch visit was to Operation Grow, a social enterprise that is really a therapeutic and empowering business venture launched by Huronia Transitional Home. The concept as described by Kathy Willis is to use the enterprise to help reduce the impacts of violence and poverty on women. By successfully launching the First Phase the hope is to become self-sufficient and then be able to pay part-time Vertical Cultivators and Maintenance staff. Kathy states that working with 3rd generations of abuse and poverty inspired them pursue this venture and that it will be entirely participant driven in its scope. The current offerings are kale, 3 different lettuce varieties, basil, cilantro, dressings etc. Current HVAC issues have led to crop loss, damage and infestations,  but they are confident they will be able to stabilize and then partner with local restaurants and markets to provide goods on a year round basis.
The location is also able to support rentable meeting space, an inspectable kitchen and Trauma Yoga and other supportive programs. Kathy admits that the under estimating on the human resources strain this venture would cause was their biggest mistake. but onward and upward, phase 2 will be a 10,000 square foot farm once they work the Smart System kinks of this one. "hey Siri how's the lettuce?". Open hours are Tuesday 12-5, Friday 10-5 and the Chigamic Market that runs 306 Wednesdays. Thanks to Kathy and her staff for the tour and yes we made off with lots of salad fixings and dressings and pesto at the shop!!!