POTTSTOWN PA – The vision of opening a greenhouse and retail crafts operation as a therapy and jobs program for adults with developmental disabilities, described more than a year ago by its sponsors to the Lower Pottsgrove Township Board of Commissioners, was formally fulfilled during the weekend (Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5 and 6, 2012).
KenCrest Employ-Net, part of a more than 100-year-old group that provides career education and employment for disabled individuals and those suffering from autism, held a two-day open house for “Seeds Of Purpose,” its gardening and hand-made craft items store at 1494 N. Charlotte St.
The large, semi-transparent greenhouse is filled inside and out with the horticultural products and gifts over which about 20 KenCrest workers have labored for months. Brightly colored flowers, fresh-from-the-patch pumpkins and corn stalks all are carefully arranged at its entrance, and there’s more – mums, ornamental pepper plants, geraniums, marigolds, and gourds – to be found inside.
Like anything that grows, KenCrest site facilitator Robin Ward acknowledges, getting to this point required both time and patience.
It’s been 14 months since KenCrest representatives approached commissioners during August 2011, asking for township approval of its plans. Board members said they liked the fact that the greenhouse would operate under a non-profit’s supervision, that it would be health-related, and that it would be only temporary and seasonal. They agreed to waive the organization’s need to submit a land development plan for the structure, normally required by law.
Commissioners’ acceptance of KenCrest’s proposal, however, came with a caveat. The board limited its waiver to only three years’ duration. Kencrest must decide by August 2014 whether it will remain at the North Charlotte Street site or relocate, hopefully elsewhere within the township. A land development plan will be due by then.
Greenhouse construction began in the chilly early days of January (2012). Electricity had been installed at the location only a couple of weeks later, and by February the structure was completely enclosed. Plants were in full bloom by April, and Seeds of Purpose began a low-key spring selling season by month’s end. Annuals, perennials, and herbs were featured for no more than $2 apiece; hyacinths, elephant ears and scarlet runner beans were available too.
The operation has attracted plenty of interest since. In May, the Student Philanthropy Council of Pottstown’s Hill School presented Seeds of Purpose with a $3,000 show of support. In July, an area couple hired its workers to create hand-painted pots filled with herbs as table gifts at their wedding reception. Within recent weeks, Ward herself was named the recipient of one of KenCrest’s Innovation Awards.
- KenCrest Fulfills Greenhouse Vision In Lower Pottsgrove
- KenCrest Plants ‘Seeds Of Purpose’ This Weekend
- Commissioners OK KenCrest ‘Temporary’ Greenhouse
Photos from Seeds of Purpose via Facebook