Our journey began in 2013 when the effects of the economic down turn had hollowed Southwest Opportunity Center’s contract work and new business contracts were hard to find. A long term course of self-determination was concluded to be the best way to support the mission of the agency. A greenhouse was chosen as the best option to provide jobs and job training in a business area expecting many years of growth. In addition to the income and work opportunities a greenhouse provides, it is a great means of strengthening the connection between SOC, its mission and clients and the community.
SunGarden Greenhouse’s mission is to create consistent training and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the greenhouse. The greenhouse will use sustainable, ethical practices to grow high quality, local, and flavorful produce using biological pest controls that are safe for both the plants and the caretakers.
Meet the Team
Audrey Gaio Johnston
Executive Director at Southwest Opportunities Center
Sara Anderson Mooney
Every client will have access to SunGarden and the SunGarden market. Work opportunities will include retail sales assistance, produce packaging, sorting and labeling, plant maintenance and facilities upkeep. An individual’s abilities and interests will guide the work activities they do in the greenhouse. Day Services and Senior Programming will have access to the facilities for community events and enrichment.
SunGarden Advisory Board
Audrey Gaio Johnston – Executive Director at Southwest Opportunities Center
David Helmke – McNamara, Reinicke, Vogelsberg & Helmke, LLP
Dennis Uppena – Retired teacher of Agriculture
George Kruger – Professor of Marketing at UW-Platteville
Jeff Gruetzmacher – Royal Bank
Kevin Gallagher – Avista Esterline
Michael Compton – Professor of Agriculture at UW-Platteville
Steve Barry – EMC Controls
Dr. Thomas Hughes – Hughes Dental Clinic