In Dec. 2 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
At 2nd Chance Outreach in Jamestown, clients are not only breaking the bonds of addiction but they are also breaking ground and planting vegetables.
While learning to make the decision to live drug free, they are also learning to live off the land.
"We're getting healthy around 2nd Chance," said Greg Trout executive director of 2nd Chance Outreach.
Since its humble beginnings about a year and a half ago, 2nd Chance Outreach has become a facility well on its way to sustainable living.
"The prayer is I want to use every square inch of the property," said Trout.
With the help of clients and friends, he is working toward achieving his goal.
Already, they have built a nature trail with Bible scriptures and angels adorning the path.
Bare dirt with an erosion problem is on its way to becoming a thriving garden to provide perennial flowers and fresh food for the facility.
There are three enormous raised beds with cold frames to continue growing through the winter season.
Planted there are broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, 68 different kinds of lettuce, and various greens.
Among the hands tending the soil are those of Rod "Doc" Shirk, a Naturopathic Doctor and master gardener, who came to 2nd Chance last summer when he needed a place to park his camper while his truck was repaired.
He was travelling from Florida to Indiana and from there he planned to go to Belize as a missionary teaching the people to garden.
"You need raised beds so you can raise your own vegetables," said Shirk.
The need for a garden and the desire to serve people kept Shirk in Jamestown.
"I was really surprised we had such great vegetable production this year," Shirk said. "It is really a blessing."
He said they have built an area for cold storage to keep crops such as onions, potatoes, and carrots during the winter.
They've also constructed a large potting shed and plan to put in gardens on either side of the new structure.
To prepare the ground for spring planting, they are hauling in dirt and burning brush to introduce potash to the soil for nutrients.
A 36 x 40 green house is also in the construction process at the property.
Trout said they have ordered 300,000 seeds to fill the gardens with plants next year.
When all work is completed, there will be about three acres of garden growing at 2nd Chance.
To process and preserve the bounty of the vegetable gardens, they built a canning kitchen complete with freezers so they will be able to enjoy fresh grown food year round.
Shirk said he is using the garden at 2nd Chance as a model to write a manual detailing instructions on building and using raised beds.
The manual will be sent to Guatamala, Belize, and Honduras to help missionaries teach people there how to grow their own vegetables.
At 2nd Chance, a drip irrigation system, water lines from the main building to the garden, all electrical work, and carpentry is accomplished by clients.
"Most of the work here is done by clients," said Trout. "The majority of our clients have worked in construction because they don't drug test workers."
Trout also has a background in carpentry.
"When we first came here," said Trout. "We remodeled houses to support the ministry.
Those accumulated talents, skills, and abilities are put to work now to feed the bodies and souls of clients at 2nd Chance.
He said working is part of their therapy.
The therapeutic benefit of being outside gardening is a welcome mind clearing process after hours in the classroom.
"Some months we'll have anywhere from 150 -200 people through here," said Trout. "Every week people are cycling out and new people are coming in for treatment."
Clients spend a day in class and a day working on a project in the garden.
"Being able to work in the garden has kept these folks going," said Trout.
Without a steady funding source, Trout has accomplished much by using scrap materials and donations from local sources.
"We have minimal funds so we did this through what we could scrape up," Trout said.
Starter plants called plugs were donated along with pots, soil, and even cabins.
A prayerful respite area with cabins and a fully stocked fish pond will soon be available for pastors and lay staff to find a quiet area to pray and renew.
Vegetables grown at 2nd Chance's garden are used to feed their clients.
"Our gardening project should pay for itself within a year," said Trout
He projects a savings of about $9,000 per year in food costs.
"Being better stewards of God's money is the main goal," said Trout. "We run 24 hours a day so that brings its own challenges."
One of those challenges is the expense of electricity.
"We practice power conservation," Trout said. "We shut down our whole power grid nine hours a day except for 2 class rooms and the office."
Trout estimates by conserving energy, 2nd Chance will significantly reduce their operating costs.
"It was nothing last winter to get a $5,000 electric bill," said Trout. "We won't know for sure until after this winter season, but we've probably cut that in half."
In preparation for cold winter months, the group has completely winterized the facility with insulation in walls and on pipes, new windows and doors and caulking.
"It would be cool to have 2nd Chance all green," Trout said. "The main point is we don't want to waste - we want to conserve."