Growing lettuce and helping people with disabilities grow job skills are goals of a new non-profit in Maryville.
Lettuce Dream is the name of the new project and Jackie Allenbrand is the Director. She said the idea for the project started about three years ago in an effort to give opportunities and local employment to people with disabilities. The project is based around growing hydroponic lettuce and the first phase of the project is building two greenhouses and an operations building at the location near Pizza Ranch and MFA off of U.S. 71 in Maryville. She said building should be completed soon with a test crop put in sometime in August and training beginning in the fall.
According to Allenbrand, they’ve been consulting with Wendie Blanchard who began a similar project in New Jersey. Blanchard started Arthur and Friends for her nephew with Down’s Syndrome.
“She found that this was a very beneficial program there,” Allenbrand said. “We knew that there was nothing like that here in Northwest Missouri and thought it would be a unique alternative to do some training programs for persons with disabilities. We’re in a good central location and we thought let’s try something unique and give persons with disabilities a chance to learn some training skills.”
Allenbrand said when it’s available they plan to have their lettuce for sale at various stores in Maryville, Stanberry and Albany.
Allenbrand was named the director last month, but she said she’s been involved since the beginning.
“I had been working with a program with farmers with disabilities and was invited to the (first) meeting,” said Allenbrand. “I’m excited about the potential for the trainees, the persons with disabilities, that we’re working with – they don’t have a whole lot of opportunities once they transition out of high school and this is going to give them some training and hopefully some meaningful employment back in their community.”
For more information about Lettuce Dream and how to donate or get involved visit their website.