KINGSTON TOWNSHIP -- A farming program in Luzerne County has caught the attention of Misericordia University.
Occupational Therapy majors will study how the program benefits special-needs students who grow and harvest plants.
A new round of crops is going into the ground at the completely green garden at the Lands at Hillside Farms.
"Garlic is the best that we ever planted, it's the best seller. "
These young farmers are students from the Luzerne Intermediate Unit, part of the "Dream Green" program. It's designed to teach students how working the two acres of land near Shavertown can yield more than just crops.
"You learn a lot of stuff out here, usually not just farming, it's vocabulary words or stuff like that," said LIU student Jonathan Andrews. "It's way better than the classroom!"
Jonathan Andrews, Joshua Lockavich, and Brandon Dewey are three of almost a dozen students who learn social and business skills by growing crops and then selling them at the farmer's market in Wilkes-Barre.
"Doing this job here makes you feel like you can do anything in the world," said Andrews.
"I didn't think I would be having that much fun, but after a while it kind of became fun."
This program started in 2010 thanks to a USDA grant but these LIU students have been able to grow the crops here and sell them so successfully that it is now self-sustaining.
"Pretty much they do everything to make the profit, to put it back into the program," said Misericordia University student Allison Hausman.
The success of the program has attracted the attention of Occupational Therapy students from Misericordia University. For the first time, they joined students from the intermediate unit on the farm.
"We're just looking at the kids working and watching their skills and seeing if they improve at all. So, we are doing standardize measures too, as well as the observations," said Misericordia University student Erin Huff.
Misericordia University plans to spend two years in studying the "Dream Green" program, hoping to scientifically prove -- beyond the smile on the faces of the students -- that this program is worth growing.