"When we get our guys, they start immediate employment. We put $8 to $15 in their pocket for an average of 30 hours per week," Berkley said. "They're gaining skill and working six-hour days. They get paid just like us.
"It's an opportunity for men to come, gain skill, get acclimated to a work culture most have never been in, and they get to take a check home and make a contribution to their household. You see them full circle through this greenhouse and immediately to employment."
In addition to the greenhouse offerings, the institute will host a health fair from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with screenings for diabetes and blood pressure. They also will distribute blood pressure cuffs and diabetes test strips and monitors.
The evening will include a 30-minute cooking demonstration and greenhouse tours.
"With West Virginia being one of the top states in obesity, and at every health fair or event they have, they're encouraging folks to eat healthy. Sometimes it's just not available," Berkley said. "We want to promote healthy eating, cooking and complement that by opening our community clinic."
The institute will sell crops daily from the urban farm. After today, they will know which hours best suit the community. Starting May 11, it also will operate a stand at the Capitol Market.
Bill Shanklin, the greenhouse manager and an instructor for the institute, has been working with the fathers to grow crops.
"I think the students are picking up on its success. None of them are gardeners - some might have a little experience," he said. "But they knew nothing about horticultural techniques. We're trying to teach in addition to the gardening is how to be able to sustain family food for themselves with a garden.
"This is a good program, and they're doing good. They're learning a lot."
The institute is at 131 Perkins Ave., and the greenhouses are directly across from the building. The institute welcomes community volunteers from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday to help in the greenhouse by watering plants, sowing seeds and more.
"We've been having good success, but we thought we'd open it up to folks not working or who have a day off," Berkley said. "We want everyone in the community to have a place here."
The participants in the Growing Jobs project are recruited from the institute's Responsible Fatherhood Program, which aims to help put fathers in a position to provide for their families and ultimately make a better environment for children.
For more information, call KISRA at 304-768-8924 or visit www.kisra.org.