Rooftop garden, with a purpose

Rooftop garden, with a purpose

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some 60 feet above the building, the new rooftop garden at 546 Ka'aahi Street in Honolulu is an oasis in the city.

However, it is far more than a garden.  It is the Institute for Human Service's newest tool in its mission to end homelessness.

Named the Rooftop Training and Education Center, or RTEC, the space will be used to train the homeless who are part of the IHS system with agricultural skills.

"Train them, teach them how to live outside of the shelter and give them skills to get jobs.  There are a lot of farms out there that are looking for workers" said Gordon Ortiz, the IHS's Director of Facilities and Operations.

The skills being taught aren't menial either.  The RTEC utilizes hydroponic and aqua-ponic systems that at the forefront of the agricultural industry.

In addition to the functional skills the clients will learn, there is an emotional element that will help them heal.

"Something to get them off and away from the street, they can come up here, really focus on themselves and doing something for themselves".

Ortiz estimates class sizes will number between 10-15 people with each group receiving an approximate one-month curriculum.  Afterwards, they will receive assistance in finding employment in the industry, should they be interested and qualified.

One final benefit to the program; all the food harvested, from fruits to vegetables to fish, will be used to feed the homeless at the Institute.

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