Last updated: August 28. 2013 5:47AM - 101 Views

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A state-of-the-art retail greenhouse has sprouted behind the Ewing Vocational Center, providing work opportunities for Center for Human Services clients.

Bloomin’ Gardens, the Robert W. and Mark W. Mason Horticultural Training Center, was the centerpiece of the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce’s A.M. Exchange program Thursday morning at the Fox Theatre Events Center in downtown Sedalia.

Angie Thompson, sales and marketing manager for the Center for Human Services, said the nine-acre facility was made possible through a $500,000 estate gift from the Masons. The complex includes two 30-foot by 96-foot buildings that feature elaborate automated cooling and shade systems, as well as a stand-alone generator that kicks in within minutes of power being out.

“We kept our future goals in mind with the construction,” Thompson said.

The greenhouse, scheduled to open April 2 with a grand opening April 14, typically has about six CHS clients working at a time from a pool of about 20 client workers. Under the integrated work system, it also has two full-time outside workers.

CHS Employment Services Director Mickey Paul said they found workers by seeing which clients expressed interest in the positions, then determined if they had the abilities necessary to work in the greenhouse. The workers — who will fill the equivalent of eight full-time positions, Paul said — handle everything from planting and watering to operating the cash register.

“They love working at the greenhouse,” he said. “Their excitement is unbelievable.”

Greenhouse supervisor Lori Fowler said this is her first experience working with residents who have disabilities, “and it is awesome. They are excited about the work.”

The greenhouse will sell perennials, annuals, geraniums, herbs, planters, hanging baskets, potting soil and fertilizer, as well as roses and vegetable starter plants. No trees, shrubs or grasses will be available.

The roses will be the only offering not grown on site, Fowler said. The vegetable plants that will be available at the opening will include broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.

Fowler said prices “will be competitive with what you will find anywhere else in town,” and that the money raised through plant sales will support CHS programs.

The greenhouse will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Plans are for it to be open year-round, and there have been discussions about creating a team that would go out to do planting for customers. Greenhouse representatives will be at the KDRO Radio Home & Lifestyle Show this weekend at the Mathewson Exhibition Center; they also plan to be part of the Sedalia Area Farmers Market.

Fowler will be on hand to provide advice for those with not-so-green thumbs.

“The key is having the right plant in the right place,” she said.

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