XENIA — Located behind Greene County Juvenile Court and the juvenile detention center is Greene County Youth Assessment and Intervention Center. The property is positioned to the left of Greenewood Manor. Two of the important aspects of the property that gain attention are its greenhouse and garden. The staff of the GC Youth Assessment and Intervention Center use the greenhouse and garden as a means to teach the youth “life skills.”
GC Youth Assessment and Intervention Center Youth Care Specialist Emmanuel Birgen said that staff members have positive feelings about working with kids in the greenhouse and garden.
“The staff always feels that it’s a good life skill to add on to the kids’ knowledge and that it’s a good thing to teach kids how to plant and donate/give back to the community,” Birgen said.
The greenhouse and garden are not solely for kids locked up in the juvenile detention center.
“It is for the kids that are referred to the intervention center,” Birgen said. “They do not have to be locked up but they must be a client affiliated with juvenile court.”
The groundbreaking for the greenhouse was done on March 18, 2019.
Birgen said the idea for the greenhouse came from Greene County Juvenile Court Judge Amy Lewis. Its funding came from donations through local organizations.
“The organization named 100 Women of Greene County donated $11,600 to help fund the construction of the greenhouse,” Birgen said. “It is also supported by Greene Giving who donated $17,000 towards the improvement of the greenhouse.”
A lot of preparation goes into the running of the greenhouse. Birgen said that he has to plan out what will be planted. In addition, Birgen has to order seeds and starter grow pots.
“We have to keep the irrigation, temperature regulation, and ventilation up to date,” Birgen said. “We keep fertilizer and pesticide logs. I organize the plants and certain activities and chores for the kids in the greenhouse.”
Most of the items that are grown in the greenhouse are donated to the local food pantry and to One Bistro.
“We give food to kids to take home and food made for the kids who are attending the intervention center which is a farm-to-table approach,” Birgen said.
When kids first come to the Intervention Center and they hear about gardening, they just think gardening is dirty and pointless, Birgen said. He has to change that mindset. Birgen has to teach the kids about the importance of gardening and gardening is where food comes from.
“I teach them about the food chain that plants are the primary food supply and such,” Birgen said. “Eventually, they love to go get their hands dirty and watch their plants grow. Horticultural therapy really helps the kids manage all of the stress in their life in a positive way.”
Reach Darryl McGee at 937-502-4534