Article: Putting Down Roots and Raising Hopes

( July 14, 2010 -- New Leaf, a new horticulture and job skills program is designed specifically for recovering addicts who have been homeless for two years. Many individuals find it difficult to hold down a job, because they are tainted by drug abuse, violence and life on the street. Program director Edgar Sosa-Mieles likes to say, “I get to grow plants and harvest people.” The program is funded in part by the government and lasts only six weeks.

Mr Sosa-Mieles uses the lessons about plants to build his students’ self-esteem and help them transition into the working world without drugs. Inside his greenhouse, students learn how to make organic fertilizer out of peat moss, topsoil, perlite and rice husks. Mr Sosa-Mieles likes to point out the similarities between people and plants. He teaches them to start new plant life by carefully taking cuttings and drenching them with an organic fertilizer, free from chemicals. Throughout the six weeks, students carefully monitor and nurture their plants. Watering carefully to not destroy their hard work. As students learn the fine art of gardening, they also learn that patience and dedication can yield results with plants and within themselves. The greenhouse holds many fruits of their labor including papaya, guava, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano plants.
Organic fertilizers are effective without chemicals just as our bodies can be, which is what Mr. Sosa-Mieles wants his students to realize. To go one step further, organic fertilizers actually improve the soil by allowing it to retain nutrients and moisture better. Further driving the point home that humans work best when their minds and bodies are clear from drugs.

In gardens around the world, many people are turning to organic fertilizers and pesticides, especially with the increasing concerns about the chemicals used in traditional fertilizers and pesticides. People inspired by New Leaf can also find organic products online and in lawn and garden stores. But with so many products on the market claiming to be organic, choosing the right product can be tricky. Only products that have the Organic Materials Review Institute-listed®(OMRI) and USDA-approved National Organic Program seals are approved for organic gardening. The best organic and vegetable insect killers are safe to use up to the day of harvest and target a wide range of insects, without the use of synthetic chemicals or man-made chemicals.
On the students’ difficult road ahead to a life free of drugs, what a good skill to have for the planet: growing an organic garden and body, free of chemicals. What better inspiration is there for joining the green movement?

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