Author: Oksana Bondar, PLEDDG Regional Coordinator in Vinnytsia region

молодь з інвалідностю з супроводом_1The “Association for Protection of Rights and Assistance to People with Disabilities “Open Hearts” NGO, which is implementing the project “Creating inclusive conditions for employment of young people with severe disabilities based on Social Workshops’ greenhouse business” in the framework of PLEDDG ’s SME Support Fund, have equipped a greenhouse in the territory of Social Workshops in Dorozhne village of Vinnytsia region.

The project’s team, consulted by experts, have provided professional supplies for the greenhouse situated in the territory of Social Workshops in Dorozhne village (at 20 km from Vinnytsia) by installing an arched greenhouse of 5 х 20 m in size with automatic drip watering, heating, lighting, and ventilation, and tiered facilities for all-inclusive plant cultivation. With seeds sown in February and March, and first seedlings early in April, we had what to sell and what to plant in the territory of Social Workshops’ household. Now, there are several thousand bushes of plantlets in the greenhouse: bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers, Celebes pepper and hot pepper, brussels sprout, kohlrabi; flavoring herbs, including mint, pimentary, basil, thyme, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, rocket salad, lettuce; and flowers such as aster, marigold, etc. But the most valuable thing is that young people with disabilities can socialize here by being employed in the greenhouse.

Anna Priadkina, a social care teacher, says: “16 young people with severe disabilities and 10 parents were selected from a number of the organization’s clients. They received tuition on how to work in greenhouses. Today, we have a full-service greenhouse business by having created 8 workplaces for young people with severe disabilities who help us in the households, based on their individual work schedules. Youth’s socializing through their employment is vital, as they can be engaged in self-realization and receive new life skills. We see a progress; we see how our children are changing, due to their working in greenhouses. They like the job and are reluctant even to come back home (the young people are daily transported to Social Workshops in Dorozhne village). For instance, today they are transplanting Celebes pepper out from the greenhouse”.

Svitlana Demko, Project Coordinator and Head of Association’s Board, notes that they have almost finished the work on creating video-lessons for greenhousing skills development and are currently working on a themed leaflet and brochure “A greenhouse business and an integrated workplace as a roadmap to well-being of disabled people” to share the experience of such inclusive employment model. Very soon, based on Social Workshops, we are launching “A Store of Achievements” social shop for promoting the products grown in greenhouses and made in boutiques of creative products and souvenirs.

The “Open Hearts” Association is ready to distribute the employment model for the youth with severe disabilities as a best practice both at regional and national levels. To ensure sustainability of the innovative greenhouse business practice, the organization has written a project and become a winner of the regional call for programs developed by civil institutions, which will be implemented with regional budget funding in 2019. The “Open Hearts” is going to extend the experience of setting up a greenhouse business by the families with disabled children in 8 districts of the region. As part of the new project implementation, the parents and disabled young people will receive onsite seminars and masterclasses on workplace creation. A management team will be engaged for training them, with sharing video-lessons and content developed with PLEDDG Project support.

Ms Svitlana notes that the idea of an integrated greenhouse workplace for the disabled people and further development of the social enterprise came through her participating in the reconnaissance visit on the topic of women-oriented social enterprises for inclusive development organized in Poland, March 2018, by PLEDDG Project.