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US (PA): Goodwill Greenhouse program expanding

Goodwill Industries of North Central Pennsylvania (NCPA) has big plans for its small business training program, the Goodwill Greenhouse, in 2023.

The program is led by Dave Thompson, who has been steadily growing the program for five years. Thompson joined the Goodwill Greenhouse program in 2017. Previously dividing his time between Goodwill NCPA’s Graphic Design Department and the Greenhouse Program, Thompson is now solely directing his focus on the Greenhouse Program as it expands.

When asked about the future of the program, Thompson stated, “There have been many great ideas on how to ‘grow’ this program that has not come to fruition as of yet. I look forward to continue expanding with my two main helpers, Andrew Stahlman, who has been working in the greenhouse since 2020, and Tyler Duttry, who has been with the program since its inception.”

The Goodwill Greenhouse started in 2015 with a small temporary greenhouse and a few garden beds. Over the years, the program has grown to include multiple garden beds, raised beds, and a high-tunnel. These additions coincided with their move in 2018 from the temporary greenhouse into the current permanent greenhouse located at 101 Preston Way in the Falls Creek Industrial Park.

“The mission of the Goodwill Greenhouse and the organization as a whole is helping individuals with different disadvantages pertaining to employment. This specific program is such an exciting program that can utilize so many different people with their own unique set of skills.” Thompson said. “The ultimate goal is to make this operation viable throughout the year.”

The program participants use an indoor grow room to plant the seeds in the winter and early spring before transplanting them and moving them to the large greenhouse as they grow. Flowers and garden plants are sold in May. The program’s focus then shifts to the garden beds and the care of the vegetables throughout the summer and then growing chrysanthemums and pumpkins to sell in the fall.

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