HabCenter's Hydroponic Garden Food Donation

Kelly Coulson
Boca Helping Hands
April 28, 2017

When Habilitation Center For The Handicapped Executive Director Bob DiRocco attended a city commissioners meeting last summer, his intention was to request funds for the center. Yet as he sat at the meeting, he heard story after story of local citizens struggling with food insecurity.


“It was heartbreaking! I felt guilty! Here am I looking for money and there’s 90 year old ladies who are eating leftover croissants for dinner,” said DiRocco. “I thought, ‘the nerve of you Bob, looking for money when this is going on in your community!’ I just had to do something.”


Thus the HabCenter Hydroponics program was born. Through the leadership of Nursery Manager Bill Smith, HabCenter now has a fully operational hydroponics system producing a variety of leafy green vegetables.


“Lettuce is 1 of the top 10 vegetables in the United States. This nutrition mix that we want out of our system is a combination of leaf lettuce, which is higher in potassium, and we’re also blending in some Asian greens. What we have here is a super nutrient rich food,” said Smith. “The paying ahead to the community is something that’s important to us. We ask for help from the community, let’s go out and give something back!”


With a focus on offering a range of comprehensive, individually-tailored vocational training programs and support services, their adults with disabilities have an opportunity to maximize their inherent potential and to become productive, contributing members of the community. Through the hydroponics program, clients become empowered with the knowledge that they are directly helping members of their own community… that their hard work is helping to feed people.

Earlier this week, DiRocco and Smith dropped off their most recent harvest donation to Boca Helping Hands. The duo shared information with BHH Volunteers about the process, growing and production cycle as well as the benefits of hydroponic growing vs. soil growing.


We're happy to share that the freshly harvested greens were served in a variety of dishes at yesterday's lunch as well as tossed in our daily leafy green salad.


Our sincerest thanks to the team at HabCenter for taking such huge strides in fighting food insecurity in Palm Beach County and your dedication to Boca Helping Hands. With endless possibilities on the horizon, who knows how big this program can become.

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