Working on projects with the Square Foot Gardening Foundation (SFG) through Columbia College this year has been amazing! This week I got to visit an old meat packing plant off of Two Notch Rd where the SFG boxes are made. SFG recently moved from Utah to South Carolina and has hired Christ Central Ministries’ woodworking vocational program to make the Square Foot Gardening boxes to be used in Columbia and sold all over the country via the Internet. Being a nonprofit new to the area, SFG wants to keep their box building local to support Columbia residents, especially those who are in need of a job.
Clients at Bethel House (one of Christ Central’s ministries) are the ones actually building the SFG boxes. Bethel House is an intense recovery support program for men recently released from prison or jail, dealing with drugs and/or alcohol, having difficulty supporting themselves or dealing with numerous other life issues. Typically Christ Central’s clients are referred to them by local churches. Bethel House men can enroll in Christ Central’s woodworking program to gain work experience, learn a marketable job skill, become construction safety certified, and make some money.
Bethel House requires its clients to find a job in the first thirty days of the two phase, year long program. The woodworking program exempts them from this. The money made through the wood working program by boat, cabinet, and Square Foot Gardening sales helps to cover their program fees and trade school tuition. Christ Central hopes to expand their program beyond woodworking to start welding and sheet-rocking certification programs.
Christ Central also cares about keeping it local. They’re using Georgia Cypress from a local supplier to build boxes for SFG. Before moving to South Carolina, SFG used cedar for the boxes. Cedar is more expensive than Cypress and doesn’t last as long. All of the Cypress will be harvested somewhat locally in the Southeast from SC, Northern FL, and GA.
Bethel House is redoing their website at the moment, but check them out via the Google machine in a few weeks. They’ve started to sell their boats and boat building kits so check those out or get involved in their family boat building blitz that will be at Hope Plaza downtown this Fall. The director of the woodworking program told us some wild stories of life transformation he’s seen, and he’ll probably share some at the boat building blitz. He made the comment “What can I do with my life that’s more important than this?” Isn’t that cool?
And if you’d like to start your very own, super simple, fantastically delicious home garden…..order your box here: http://www.squarefootgardening.com/yard/