Tickets for Harvestfest 2019 will go on sale Monday, August 19.
Special Growers was established in 2010 by a group of parents with special needs youth. These parents began realizing how few opportunities and outside-the-home activities remained as their children graduated high school and entered adulthood. This group decided to take action, and thus, “Special Growers” was born. The garden was started with hopes of selling vegetables and other produce grown by their youth at the local Farmer’s Market. However, after a few attempts, the quality and quantity could not match that of the big local farms of which Special Growers couldn’t compete with.
After careful consideration, they decided to adapt their original plan and specialize in the production of fresh herbs selling to local area restaurants. Special Growers prides itself on the “freshest of herbs” delivered to restaurant kitchens within two hours of being harvested. In 2011, Vulcan Materials Company leased a large parcel of property to the new non-profit business and a greenhouse was donated by Out of Eden Garden Center. With the help of employees of Gerdau Ameristeel, the Special Growers greenhouse was quickly up and running, and it has been thriving ever since.
Starting with three restaurants in 2012, Special Growers now delivers to 20 restaurants in the Maryville-Knoxville area. The greenhouse now employs eight special needs young adults and three interns year around with the addition of 25 – 30 disabled young adults during June and July in their summer work program. For the last two years, Special Growers has sponsored a weekly work-study program to all four local high schools, providing work opportunities to over 60 special needs students during the school year.
As the years go by, things continue to change and update at the greenhouse—from the addition of hydroponics to the increasing number of restaurants served. However, the determined and strong work ethic of everyone involved in Special Growers has remained and only continues to grow.
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