The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Thursday, December 18, 2003

Special people with green thumbs
help color the holiday season red

By Patrecka F. Adams
Herald Staff Writer

Some very special Mercer County residents are cultivating their green thumbs to produce exquisite seasonal foliage.

They are six volunteers with mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities who are working in MCAR's greenhouse to grow poinsettias and other plants as vocational training.

When the greenhouse opened last winter behind the social service agency's workshop in Hermitage, the six started small, growing normal bedding plants and vegetables, said Mark Russell, sales manager.

Then they tried their hands at growing house plants and other flowers, such as daisies, and chrysanthemums for fall.

By summer, the group was ready to take on poinsettias.

Russell said growing the plants is tricky because they require lots of special care. He said they turned out great for the group's first time growing them.

"Poinsettias are the most popular plant in the country. We were really surprised with our success," he said. "People told us they were harder to grow than we thought they would be, but everyone that we've talked to has been really impressed."

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