ARLINGTON, Ne - In Rural Arlington, Nebraska, sits a plot of land donated by a local family. The garden is now in full bloom thanks to some special helpers.
Anthony Marcucci and Nicole Endahl are two of the four employees, otherwise known as farmers in the Roots to Wings program.
"It makes me feel happy that I get to make some money and get paid," said farmer Anthony Marcucci.
"It is just amazing to be able to keep them in our community where they have a job," said Jamie Smith.
Arlington Public Schools Special Education Teacher Jamie Smith says she and retired special ed teacher Shelia Monke noticed a growing number of students with developmental disabilities coming to the district. They wanted to start a work skill training program for the young adults who age out of school.
"This is something to give them purpose," said Shelia Monke.
In 2015, the non-profit formed and in 2017 was the garden's first year. Their produce is now a hit at the Arlington farmer's market.
But, the farmers' skills go beyond just gardening. With the help of volunteers, the farmers bake and craft. Everything is for sale in their very own shop in Arlington. After a year in business, they are already expanding.
"We are still like this is so exciting, how are we going to do this," said Linda Menking.
Executive Director Linda Menking says at the beginning of August their workshop and craft space will move across the street. More room, means more farmers can be hired.