Tri-County Greenhouse: An uplifting destination

24-03-2020    14:13   |    Hartford Courant

UK- In gloomy times, everyone needs a joyful experience. A riot of colors, smiling faces, and healthy plants grown right on the premises make for a delightful visit. Planting a garden demonstrates hope for a future. What better way to stay healthy in body and mind than to get out into a garden and create something beautiful?

The six greenhouses at 290 Middle Turnpike offer the members of the intellectually disabled community paid training and work experience in a retail horticulture setting. It is a division of Whole Life, Inc. a nonprofit agency. 

The two managers - Colleen Sweetland, program director and Chris Campbell, business manager - keep the nursery humming in all seasons.

“Being open all year benefits our individuals because they will have the opportunity to learn different tasks and have community interaction year-round,” Campbell said.  

More than 20 people are at the nursery doing fulfilling, learning opportunity jobs five days a week. Some live in group homes, with their families, or in their own apartments.

“Their paycheck is very important to them,” Campbell said. 

Earning money and making decisions about how to spend income is empowering and gives a sense of self worth. 

 “The money we make from sales pays the individuals and they are paid according to their skills up to minimum wage. Each individual comes to his or her job with a budget, which is provided by the Department of Developmental Services. Those funds go for staffing, materials, and capital expenses,” he explained.

The employees are helpful and enjoy the work. Debbie Crowley likes to work with the soil and plants. 

“I like to be a dirty girl,” she said.   

Campbell and Sweetland bustle about the greenhouses, keeping everyone on task.

“The most challenging parts of this work is making sure all the plants are ready on time. This requires assigning jobs and making sure ordered materials arrive on time. Weather is always a factor,” Campbell said. 

Tri-Country has beautiful and healthy plants in all seasons. The same clientele keeps coming back and supports a huge tag sale of all kinds of items every October, to benefit the nonprofit.

The first-time visitor may not see everything they want when driving in. Ask. The greenhouses are full of plants.  Pansies of every color are available now, even black. 

Find more information on, or call 860-429-5532.

Pansies, in every color imaginable, are ready for transport to the sale area.(Kitty LeShay/Special to Courant Community)

Cindy Hinckley and Debbie Crowley move plants to the parking area.(Kitty LeShay/Special to Courant Community)

Chris Campbell, business manager, gets the sale greenhouse filled with plants.(Kitty LeShay/Special to Courant Community)

Kevin Doody moves a flat out of the greenhouse.(Kitty LeShay/Special to Courant Community)

Source: Hartford Courant
Photo Credit: Kitty LeShay/Special to Courant Community

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