EJ Autism's Grounds for Change Garden Returns

On June 16, the second annual “Grounds for Change” garden was planted at East Islip High School, assisted by volunteers and sponsored by the EJ Autism Foundation, a local organization that works tirelessly for the benefit of special-needs children. “We had a tremendous turnout this year, with adults and children from our community digging and planting with gusto,” said EJ Autism founder Bea Huste-Petersen.

Grounds for Change consists of 13 organic garden beds housing a variety of vegetables and herbs donated by the Carmine Verdino & Sons Garden Center of South Ozone Park, N.Y. The garden was planted and is partially maintained by East Islip School District students with disabilities. The children, who attend the district’s summer school program, will water the garden with their teachers every Friday throughout the summer. “It’s a great way for our kids to see growth and progress,” said Huste-Petersen, “and a beautiful opportunity for all of us to grow together. Grounds for Change allows us to celebrate the ability in all of us.”

This year’s Ground for Change honoree is Bubba’s Burrito Bar. The popular Islip restaurant will be the recipient of any produce grown in the garden. “Bubba has been an incredible supporter of EJ Autism,” remarked Huste-Petersen. “A sign will be placed in his store stating that the plants were donated by Verdino & Sons and that they were planted and maintained by children diagnosed with autism.”