Last December, we reported that school dropouts from the Rosedale Block Cluster in Homewood were transplanting shrubs from the old Mellon Arena to beautify their community and learn about horticulture and landscaping. Dianne Swan, master gardener and Rosedale’s executive director, said the arena shrubs had a good summer in their new home, whose location she keeps secret so there won't be any "poaching". The property has been "cleared, cleaned and greened", complete with necessary soil tests so it can become “Rosedale Gardens”, an urban farm, when enough funding is secured. It will be a wonderful source of fresh produce, said Swan, and sorely needed because Homewood is known as an "urban desert".
Rosedale's horticulture and landscape training program employs mostly school dropouts who learn basic skills to become more employable, said Swan. "That's the critical issue that we're trying to address--to move our young men out of the unemployment rolls and onto someone's payroll, and 800 out of 1000 have gone on to live very fruitful lives across the country over the past 18 years."
Swan said hundreds of vacant lots in Homewood have been cleared and cleaned by the school dropouts, and the training program evolved from their desire to learn more skills. It's a positive story about young black men that is different from what's seen on TV everyday, said Swan.