Mike Uncorked: House of Sprouts

Mike Uncorked: House of Sprouts
By Mike Butler

Writing this column for the last ten years and feeling like I am in the KNOW about most things, it always surprises me when I come across really special organizations and projects that have been around for years and that I had never heard of before. Have you heard of House of Sprouts Greenhouse at Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre (KRRC) in Waterville? Well, neither had I until very recently.

The fantastic House of Sprouts sprang to life in 2014 and is going into its fifth year of operation. The concept was developed a few years earlier as staff at KRRC were looking for both a vocational opportunity and therapeutic support for their clients. Once approvals were in place through the municipality, and a design confirmed, the Apple Tree Foundation, the fundraising arm of KRRC, provided $50,000 to cover basic set up costs for the 30 X 72 foot structure, which is located behind the Centre on County Home Road. What a delight it was for all the clients and staff to see their vision come to life.

Charles Niesink, coordinator of the Centre’s Lifestyles program, oversees the greenhouse operation. “Trying something new can be scary and there was a bit of apprehension when we first sat down to discuss this project,” he says. “We’ve made some mistakes along the way, but those are lessons learned, and now, we couldn’t be more proud of our efforts.”

Three of the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre staff from the Lifestyles Program, Ella MacNeil, Courtney Lunn, and Kaslyn Lightfoot, work in the greenhouse supervising between 10 – 12 clients, who do a variety of tasks. This is very rewarding and fulfilling work for them. The clients duties are all important aspects of greenhouse work, and include working with seeds, plants, and plugs, monitoring temperature, and pest control. The clients do watering, grooming, planting, seeding, tagging, and pricing of inventory, and also attend the Kentville Farmers Market on Wednesdays to help promote the House of Sprouts and their efforts. Other clients also visit the greenhouse and enjoy the therapeutic environment provided by all the smells and colours there.

And what does the House of Sprouts provide? Well, offerings include an assortment of flowers: annuals and perennials, hanging baskets and planters, vegetables including lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes, and herbs like oregano, thyme, mint, and basil. Some of the produce is sold to staff at the KRRC, as well as being open to the public. In the future, the greenhouse is looking at partnering with a Berwick-area restaurant to provide lettuce and tomatoes for its burger menu, which would be a great way to promote the greenhouse and keep a local exchange of goods and services.

And when can you visit this incredible place? Regular hours are Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 3:30pm with some Saturdays. Check the House of Sprouts Facebook page for complete hours of operation, or call 902-358-3103 extension 117. Tell your friends and plan a road trip out to get fresh herbs and plants to make your house look and smell springy!

The Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre supports over 200 adults and children from across Nova Scotia with physical and cognitive, mental health and/or social challenges. Special projects like the House of Sprouts are just one of many that demand the attention of the Valley. Because the Centre is so prominent and necessary, it’s great to support them any way we can! For the green thumbs and those who like fresh food and supporting local, the House of Sprouts should be on your must-shop list for the summer! Enjoy!