Garden of Youth program helping students with special needs develop garden related job skills

DENVER -- Buying fresh produce at the farmers’ market is a rite of summer here in Colorado. But some of the farmers you will find at some markets this summer are not typical.

Students like Emileigh McNulty are spending their summer at six Denver high schools learning about organic gardens.

“I’m actually the one that cleared this whole section,” she told Denver7 while walking us through Garden of Youth outside West High School. “I’m actually very proud of myself.”

Working at the garden is helping her reach one of her life goals.

“When I grow up I want to be an herbalist, so I’m actually learning how to take care of plants better,” she said.

This is the sixth summer for the Garden of Youth program, which helps students with special needs learn about organic gardening while developing job skills, like selling produce.

“When they leave they have a resume and they are ready to head into their next job whatever that may look like,” said Chris Woodburn, the Sustainability Assistant for Denver Public Schools.

Besides the basics of planting and harvesting, the students have learned things like beekeeping and organic pest control.

Students like McNulty say the lessons are a lot of work, but they are also a lot of fun.

“Personally for me, I love plants and I don’t mind getting my hands dirty,” she said.

Students in the Garden of Youth program at West, Manual and North school will be at the farmers’ market in the Highlands (32nd & Lowell) Sunday, July 23 from 9 a.m. to 1p.m.

The following Sunday, July 30, students from Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy and George Washington High Schools will be at the farmers’ market on South Pearl.

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