In O’Fallon, Illinois, James Harper addresses life skills with special needs students that are a part of the O’Fallon Township High School’s (OTHS) Transition House program through gardening and growing vegetables. A retired military service member, Harper acts as the O’Fallon Garden Club’s liaison with the OTHS Transition House.
A year ago, Harper noticed that the students could benefit from this experience and thus engaged with members of the O’Fallon Garden Club to start the project. He regularly attends the plots with the students at the O’Fallon community garden guiding, teaching, and supporting the students as they learn to care for vegetables. Throughout the year, he has engaged 12 special-needs youth and two adult teachers from the Transition House to plant various vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, and onions. In turn, students use the vegetables as their main ingredients in cooking meals at the Transition House.