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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 3rd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 39

Growing Grounds Farm brings holiday flora to market

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM


PIE TIME!
Recently harvested “pie” pumpkins are ready for harvesting Growing Grounds farm-stand markets, which run every Thursday from noon to 6 p.m.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Now that the turkey’s packed away in that special place just below the rib cage, it’s time to get geared up for the next holiday season.

For Growing Grounds Farm in Santa Maria, that season means selling poinsettias, handmade leucadendron—a multi-colored plant native to Australia and South Africa—wreaths and delivering fresh-cut fir trees around the valley. Wreaths and poinsettias can be picked up during one of the last three Thursday farm stand markets of the year. After Dec. 19, the stand will close until February.

Sales from the stand make up almost 30 percent of the budget for the farm, which is one of the programs run by Transitions-Mental Health Associations of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Donations, grants, and money made from the Harvest Festival, Everything Edible, and the sale of holiday flora make up the rest of the budget.

The urban farm has been at its spot at 820 W. Foster Road since 2000, according to the program manager Ariela Gottschalk, who’s run the farm since 2002. She said the farm employs roughly 50 T-MHA clients per year and currently has 28 on the payroll.

Gottschalk said the program is unique in that it combines vocational training and horticultural therapy to provide people with mental illness employment and a supportive environment.

“It’s a program that not only gives people a job if they need a job, but it also gives them exercise, a connection to the community, and a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” she said. “We consider this program as a stepping stone for people who want to get work skills or get their feet back under them.”


FALL HARVEST
Cameron Berg picked cherry tomatoes for Growing Grounds Farms on Dec. 3. They were put in baskets and will be for sale at the farm stand on Dec. 5.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Plus, she added, farm workers get to be outside.

Although pre-ordered fir trees were delivered to Santa Maria and the surrounding areas on Dec. 5, there are extra trees available for pick up at the San Luis Obispo branch of Growing Grounds Farm (543-6071).

The Santa Maria farm stand is open Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m. On those last few farm stand days, Growing Grounds will also sell the remaining produce it’s harvesting; tomatoes, blueberries, kale, chard, leafy greens, beets, peppers, green beans, squash, leeks, herbs, and fresh-cut flowers.

Available produce is updated on the farm’s blog every week, growinggroundsfarmsm.blogspot.com.

For more information about the farms, visit t-mha.org/main/main_gg_sm.html.

 

Contact Staff Writer Camillia Lanham at clanham@santamariasun.com.