A new greenhouse is being built for the the Multi Community Diversified Services community and both staff and clients are ready to bring this greenhouse to life.

The project is spearheaded by Jeannie Hardman, assistant director of day services, Jessica Schadel, quality service manager, and Sharon Spiden, greenhouse coordinator of day services.

The three explained the first years of the greenhouse’s life will be learning about processes and figuring out what the people MCDS serves, needs and enjoys and also what is sustainable to grow. The greenhouse will be located at 2107 Industrial Drive behind the MCDS building.

“The possibilities are endless, there’s so much support,” Schadel said.

The idea stems from a successful partnership with the Meadowlark Trail.

“We had some pretty nice space with lots of ground opportunities for outdoor education community programs, so we thought that we could probably use it for something that would benefit the community a little more,” Schadel said.

MCDS supports individuals with disabilities in order to make them as independent as possible. They also offer residential day services, case management services and more, including medical services as needed.

The group loved the idea of what a greenhouse could do for their MCDS community, so they started the project with grant writing, planning and training.

“Gardening therapy was an area we wanted to add and I talked with therapists I previously worked with and they agreed how therapeutic gardening was and connecting with the earth was,” Schadel said. “When we connected all those things, we thought a greenhouse would be pretty great.”

MCDS focuses on finding employment for their community and teaching them new skills in order to achieve employment.

“We definitely live in an agriculture state, and we’re learning about plants and things with nature and all that would also offer some potential job skills so its a win win win all around,” Schadel said.

The greenhouse will offer a variety of plants ranging from cut flowers, vegetables, fruits, and much more.

In the future, they hope to add flowers and natural grasses around the trail as well as a resting area on the trail, a butterfly garden, bird houses, poinsettias, garden flowers, and fundraisers to alleviate the costs.

Schadel said they are making the greenhouse as personalized as possible, so if the community of McPherson wants to come volunteer to work at the greenhouse, they are allowed to. The clients and master gardeners will be the main workers of the greenhouse.

The goal for the MCDS Greenhouse is to create a learning environment in which many different systems are utilized Hardman explained.

“Some systems will be traditional style using soil as the medium. Clients will learn to pot plants, sow seeds and then care for plants as they grow. Aquaponic systems using tilapia and catfish will be used to teach the natural eco-cycle that is created by using the fish to provide nutrients to the plants. The plants, in turn, clean the water and provide the needed oxygen for the fish. We will use several types of systems, including a bucket system, rail system, and growing beds. Clients will learn to grow micro greens in a tray system. Several DIY tables and systems are being built which use recycled containers as growing spaces. The learning opportunities are endless and will open many doors for our clients and members of the community to observe and learn about the many ways of growing healthy foods and beneficial plants,” Hardman said.

Another area MCDS is focusing on is healthful foods they want to plant in the greenhouse and the nutritional aspect of those foods.

"We want to help encourage them to have healthy diets," Hardman said. "We also want to grow good healthy food to maybe provide some for local farmers markets and local restaurants as well."

Schadel said they wanted to start a volunteer program to give back to the community and educate the people of McPherson with knowledge of plant and greenhouse practices, and become more involved with different communities within McPherson.

Schadel said the community has been ever so supportive and have given much of their time by volunteering and donating to help MCDS with the greenhouse.

Spinden said they're getting a great deal of support from local growers, master gardens, other community greenhouses, farmers and the community of McPherson.

"All kinds of people have stepped up to really help out with ideas and supplies and knowledge and so it's really becoming a great community of growers," Spinden said.

Hardman, Schadel and Spinden want the community of McPherson to know how much they appreciate all of the volunteer work and the support of McPherson.

"The main goal is to just be a part of community to the community to benefit from it and for us to benefit from it and grow together," Schadel said.

The greenhouse is still under construction and will be for a while, but those interested in touring the greenhouse can call the main office and schedule a time to tour it with Hardman, Schadel or Spinden.

For more information, contact MCDS at 620-241-6693, or visit their Facebook page. 

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @MacSentinel.