Before becoming "Growability" in April of 2017, we operated as "HSI" (Hatponics Sustainability Initiative), the Non-Profit "arm" of hatponics.
Our pilot program, "FOOD" (Focus On Overcoming Disability) was funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. During this training program (see more about our history at the bottom of this page), Jimmy, our first trainee who has autism, developed a variety of skills as he learned about sustainable agriculture through aquaponics. Below, is a letter from Jimmy's mom describing her appreciation for the training that Jimmy received.
To Whom It May Concern:
*My son Jimmy has worked at Hatponics for almost a year. In that time, his work skills have improved dramatically. With autism, an intellectual disability, and attention deficit disorder, Jimmy has always needed very close supervision and repeated prompting to complete tasks. However, he works at Hatponics with a great degree of independence in the tasks he has been assigned. I think former teachers and therapists would be amazed to see the level of independence and attention to detail that he now displays in his work.*
*Part of the reason for his increased independence and perseverance is that Jimmy truly enjoys working at the farm. The outdoor environment is wonderful for a young man who otherwise can become easily overstimulated in an indoor setting Also, the staff there are all so kind and inclusive, which motivates him to do his best. They help him to feel important because the work they do is so impactful and worthwhile. They have made him feel that he belongs there, something that has been woefully missing in so many of his other life situations. I simply can't express my gratitude for the way the Hatponics staff have helped my son develop something of a life purpose.*
*Perhaps most exciting is that Jimmy is transferring some of the indepe*ndence he has gained at Hatponics to other life situations. For example, he often clears the table after eating without a prompt; he empties the dish*washer without being asked to do so; he recently helped his father haul old lumber to the recycling center where he helped load and unload until the job was complete. These simple life tasks are ones that many parents never have to worry about their sons' and daughters' ability to perform, but the parent of a special needs child understands and celebrates their children's accomplishments in a way the rest of the world will never understand. Milestones for special needs children are different, but no less warming to a parent's heart.
I will always be grateful to Hatponics for helping Jimmy to feel that he is part of something important, for helping give purpose to his life, and for giving us all reasons to celebrate.
More about HSI and it's history
Hatponics Sustainability Initiative (HSI) was founded three years ago to provide a training program for people in fringe populations to learn vocational skills in food production and preparation. There is a need for vocational training programs that attract people with disabilities and help them reach self sufficiency. Due to downtown Chattanooga being in a food desert, the need for sustainable food production in urban areas is needed for many to access fresh local food. The "FOOD" program was born from joining the horticulture therapy component of farming with the need for valuable skill development. "FOOD" is a curriculum based training program for people with disabilities to learn food production, preparation, and distribution. We were able to provide this training with the help of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, Orange Grove Center, Hatponics, Chattanooga Autism Center, and the YMCA. With the addition of a cafe to provide food service training HSI has launched Growabilty.