Taziki’s Mediterranean CafÃ© joined with special needs students of Fairview High School on Friday morning to celebrate the launch of a new vocational study partnership.
Taziki’s Mediterranean CafÃ© joined with special needs students of Fairview High School on Friday morning to celebrate the launch of a new vocational study partnership that allows the local students to learn all aspects of the herb business.
The new HOPE program, or “Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment,” provides participants with the opportunity to learn how to grow and sell their own produce. The parsley, oregano, cilantro, basil and rosemary that’s grown will then be used to flavor Taziki’s Mediterranean-style foods.
According to Dale Wasem, a co-owner of Taziki’s Nashville, the program first began in Birmingham, Alabama by the company’s founder and chief development officer, Keith Richards.
Now the program is being introduced in Williamson County with the help of FHS agriculture teacher Dave Harper, who recently guided the students in planting the herbs in the school’s greenhouse.
On Friday, around 40-45 students and family members visited Taziki’s to celebrate in the launch of the HOPE program in Williamson County.
“What we did was I went up there and we had on the screen where we showed the herbs, but I made sure that they saw what the live herbs were,” Wasem said. “We took them out and put them on a tray and showed the kids, and we gave them a meal, basically showing them where the herbs will be used, and what a Taziki’s looks likes.
“Some of the kids – well, in fact most of the kids – hadn’t been to a Taziki’s, so they got to see where efforts will go to. And they got to meet the manager and the employees in there … It was a learning experience, as well as getting to know us, getting to know Taziki’s.”
The students started the herbs from seeds and planted them just a little more than three weeks ago, Wasem said.
The plants have since sprouted, and now the students are getting ready to pull apart and separate them before transferring the herbs to the school’s outside garden to finish growing them to maturity, according to Wasem. Once they are transferred to the outside garden, it will likely be about 30 days before the students can begin harvesting them, he added.
“What they’ll do is they’ll grow it, they’ll cultivate it, they’ll process it and then they’ll also deliver it to the store,” Wasem said. “And then we’ll cut them a check and pay them just like we do any other vendor. And then they take that money and help benefit the kids.”
The HOPE program is expected to be ongoing, although Wasem said he isn’t sure how it will continue once the students are out of school. He said that Taziki’s will continue in the partnership for as long as the students and Fairview High School faculty want to continue with the program.
Quint Qualls covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.