Letter: Reader champions Southington’s LEAF program

To the editor:

January 5, 2015 was our last day at Leaf (Lewis Education and Agriculture Farm).

I have had the privilege of working with Mark Ramsey and his staff since the beginning of the school year. As a Job Coach at Southington High School, I have been taking young adults with special needs in our Transition Work Experience Program to LEAF. We have planted, transplanted, tasted, picked and packed vegetables.

We have swept, cleaned and painted. Some of our ‘staff’ learned that they loved working in the dirt and some loved to pick but hated to pack, but for each the lessons were less tangible. Each young adult felt welcomed and capable. Each felt empowered. One felt safe to ask questions and begin conversations, something that is so difficult for him. Two would like to work there.

The LEAF project is an important piece for Healthy Southington. I shared my CSA portion with my children and grandchildren knowing that they were receiving home grown organic vegetables but beyond the fabulous variety of healthy food LEAF offers is an unequaled educational opportunity for our community.

I see it as an important connection to our VoAg program, an opportunity for middle and elementary school field trips where students experience agriculture in action and living biology. As a workforce educator, I have personally seen the passion and creativity of the LEAF staff with our 18 to 21 year old Special Education students. What can we do to not only help support this jewel right here in Southington, but to also help it grow?

LEAF is a gift to the Southington community. We must do everything in our power to ensure that this treasure remains part of the Southington landscape for generations to come.

Susan King, Southington

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