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Making a Difference: KARM residents work in the garden

A group of people who were once homeless have been transforming their lives while working on a garden.
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 10:42 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A group of people who were once homeless are transforming their lives by learning how to grow their own food and give back to others.

It’s happening at the Knox Area Rescue Ministries. A group of Berea students have been working in the garden. The Berea program is KARM’s long-term rehabilitation program that helps break the cycle of homelessness.

“When we planted the garden, most of the plants were probably like maybe about two to three inches. And now look at it. It’s just bloomed over the few months we’ve had it out,” said Michael Schittler.

Gardening was not something new for Michael Schittler. When he was young, he helped his grandmother in the garden. Now he and a dozen others have been weeding and watering the garden at KARM.

“I love it. I just like to sit out here and look at it. Listen to the birds,” said Lisa Wogoman.

There are 1,600-square feet of 100 different types of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

“It’s truly humbling to see these men and women take this level of ownership and care into this,” said Jeffrey Crick, Berea Program Director, “The kitchen is able to use this opportunity to be able to serve more guests that come in our building because of the work and the effort and the heart these students have put into this garden that you see.”

The kitchen cooked the food they picked, and the cycle of growth continued.

“You’ll look back, you’ll stand back and look at what you’ve done, and it’s really beautiful,” explained Wogoman.

But for Schittler he’s learned patience and diligence take time.

“It takes a lot of hard work, takes long hours. But if you can do that, basically, you can set your mind to do anything,” said Schittler.

KARM paid for the gardening supplies through funds specifically for the garden.

In the fall, the team plans to grow autumn herbs and vegetables to continue to care for the garden.

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