Students with disabilities create Charleston rooftop garden | Features

On a sunny October afternoon, a group of students with disabilities dug their hands into fluffy black soil to plant vegetables and herbs on the rooftop of The Loutrel hotel in downtown Charleston. 

The planting event was a partnership between The Loutrel, Charleston Horticulture Society and Pattison’s Academy, a public charter school in West Ashley catered toward students with disabilities. 

“The focus really is for our students to get out into the community to learn practical, vocational skills — and it’s an opportunity for their families to participate, as well,” said Holly Zipperer, the principal at Pattison’s Academy.

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Brian Greenhaw helps daughter Dhalia, 13, place dirt into pots when planting herbs in a small garden on the top of The Loutrel on Oct. 16, 2023, in Charleston. Henry Taylor/Staff

The four students, who use wheelchairs to get around, lined up next to rectangular garden beds filled with small plants in plastic containers. Stacks of pavers temporarily raised several of the garden beds to make sure the students could easily reach the plants.

With help from their families, the students removed the plastic containers from each plant — tri-color sage, lemon verbena, lipstick silver snapdragon and purple kale, to name a few — and placed them in the garden bed, finishing them off with extra soil. 

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The fresh plants, donated by The Gardeners Green, will be used in specialty dishes and drinks at The Loutrel’s Veranda Lounge. 

“Now, we’re able to incorporate fresh ingredient varieties like rosemary, sage, kale and verbena into cocktails and dishes at Veranda Lounge, and guests are able to see where ingredients are coming from and the care that is put into maintaining them,” said General Manager Karl von Ramm.

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Brian Greenhaw holds up daughter Dhalia, 13, to place plants into

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