Planting seeds of
Taziki’s partners with Vincent students in gardening project Story by LAUREN HEARTSILL DOWDLE Photographs by JON GOERING AND CONTRIBUTED
or children who have been excluded, labeled as different or just misunderstood most of their lives, hope might not be something they experience. But for a group of Shelby County special needs students, that’s exactly what they found in a patch of dirt in front of their school. Nine special education students from Vincent Middle/High School grew a business from the ground up, creating the Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment (HOPE) project. They produce and sell herbs from the garden at their school to Taziki’s Lee Branch and Liberty Park locations. The idea for the business sprouted from a conversation between Cindy Vinson, the Shelby County Schools special education job coach, and Keith Richards, Taziki’s owner. Richards, who already has 14 special needs employees who work in his restaurants, was talking with Vinson about other possible projects they could partner on. When Vinson mentioned an herb garden Vincent special needs students were manning, it caught Richards’ attention. “Before I could finish, he said, ‘I’m all on it,’ and a year ago in
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Don Driggers, co-owner of Vincent Gardens, directs Vincent Middle/High students Eric Overton and Josh Thomas. About once a week, the students visit Vincent Gardens, where they grow herbs that they sell to the Lee Branch and Liberty Park Taziki’s restaurants. Eric Overton works in the nursery at Vincent Gardens. Arianna Lott, Mikayla Kelley and Ruth Driggers, co-owner of Vincent Gardens, plant herb seeds.
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