Morrison Center
          Seedling Program
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Name:              Morrison Center

                         Seedling Program

Address:          Kevin Kearns

                         Morrison Center

                         P.O. Box 1539

                         69 Chamberlain Road

                         Scarborough, Maine 04070

Phone:             207-883-6680



Facebook:      Morrison Center Facebook Page

Products and Services:

-horticultural skills for disabled individuals

-two year-round greenhouses

-plant sales for the public

-consignment experience for participants

-wholesale plant sales

-community integration

-life skills enrichment

-distinctive orchid collection

-art and craft opportunities

What Makes the Morrison Center Seedling Program Unique?

How appropriate that the horticultural program

that was created at the Morrison Center was named

the “Seedling Program.”  The Morrison Center has been working with people with disabilities for fifty-five years. When one thinks of a seedling there is this concept of the beginning stages of development.  Seedlings correlate with the idea of the potential that exists before a surge of growth and a blossoming into a more developed plant.  The individuals enrolled in the Seedling Program at the Morrison Center concentrate on growing a variety of plants in the horticultural program and focus on the concept of potential and personal growth, as well.

The first greenhouse that was introduced in the Morrison Center’s horticultural program was opened in 1987, at their former location at Martin’s Point in Portland.  By 1993, the greenhouse program had morphed into a vocational-based day program.  Due to the issue of space limitations,  the Morrison Center moved to their new location on Chamberlain Road in Scarborough in 2010.  It is a much more spacious set-up on the grounds of the former fairways of a golf course.

The Seedling Program at the Morrison Center is under the direction of Kevin Kearns. He came on board and brought his ornamental horticulture skills to the program in 1993.  His laid-back manner, extensive knowledge, good sense of humor, and ability to deal well with the participants and the public, have proven to be a great fit.

When the Morrison Center moved to Scarborough, two Rimol Matterhorn 30x60 greenhouses were erected.  They are fully automated, have radiant floor heating systems, and provide much more growing space.  The plant sales from the horticultural program prove to be self-supporting in many ways. In addition to selling orchids and tropical plants, there are hanging baskets, vegetable seedings, house plants, geraniums, and various annuals that are offered for sale.

At Christmas time, one of the greenhouses is always overflowing with red, white, and pink poinsettias that have been planted and tended by the participants in the program.  For the past five years on the first Saturday of December, a poinsettia sale has taken place in coordination with a holiday craft fair with many skilled artisans, a baked sale, luncheon, and a wreath sale at the Morrison Center.

Adorning the walls in the hall of the Seedling Program area are many colorful and unique pieces of art that were created by the participants.  These drawings and mixed-media pieces are available for sale along with a selection of handcrafted items. 

Participants in the Seedling Program are paid on a

consignment basis on a bi-weekly schedule for their crafts and artwork.

During the warmer weather, the three raised beds that are located behind the greenhouses provide vegetables for the campus kitchen. Fruit trees have been planted. This outside gardening work developed through a collaboration with the Maine Landscape and Nursery Association. There has been some experimentation with dehydrating the food that is grown. On the day that Unique Maine Farms visited, some of the participants discussed their work with the preparation of dried super hot peppers that they had grown from seed from the Congo in Africa.

The Seedling Program at the Morrison Center has several components. Individuals involved in the horticultural program, not only have the option to help with the tending and planting of seedlings, but when these seedlings become plants for sale they have the opportunity of being paid for the plants that they raised.  Each plant has a bar code which corresponds with the name of the individual who planted it and took responsibility for its care.

Jesse, who has been involved with the horticultural program for around eight years, is always thrilled to lead tours of the greenhouses.  He explained how the Seedling Program has been very special for him.  He has learned about maintaining a checking and savings account and he was looking forward to spending some of the money that he earned from the sale of his plants for a birthday present for his mother.

Besides the horticultural component of the Seedling Program, individuals have the opportunity to participate in the arts and crafts program and the life skills program that deals with such topics as cooking and money management.  There is also a community integration program.  Some of the participants travel to various locations and volunteer to lend a hand at places such as Ruth’s Resources.  Participants also help out at plant sales at colleges such as Bowdoin College and the University of Southern Maine.  Field trips are scheduled on a regular basis.

Many of the plants that are grown in the greenhouses are sold wholesale to garden centers and businesses in the area such as Unum.  The Morrison Center participates in the Portland Flower Show. Retail sales to the public are ongoing at the greenhouses during the week from Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  The sales are an important part of enabling the participants to interact with the public.  Jesse explained that he has made some new friends through the sales.

The orchid collection in the greenhouses at the Morrison Center is an incredible sight to behold.  Many of the orchids had been given to the program by a collector. Kevin discussed how there are forty-eight species of orchids that grow wild in Maine.

Other rare plants in the greenhouses have also been donated and it is quite uplifting to have the opportunity to view so many unique specimens in a setting where no pesticides are used.   Watching the fish in the small fishpond that is surrounded by plants is extremely relaxing.

Underlying the greenhouse operation at the Morrison Center is a philosophy of stepping forward and helping one another.  When asked about how the greenhouse can operate with all the challenges that are posed by the various disabilities, abundant paperwork, funding cutbacks with transportation and schedules, Kevin Kearns discussed how having a good sense of humor is critical.  He chuckled when he commented that sometimes the Seedling Program work could look “like a sitcom where everyone just laughs a lot!”

There are several dedicated individuals from the

community who have agreed to come to the Morrison Center Seedling Program and share their skills.  Michelle Doiron assists with guiding the participants with craft projects that are often sold to raise money for the programs.  Lori Boucouvalas from Biddeford Savings Bank volunteers on her own time to help with money skills and sales.  Kim Lee, an artist, lends support to the art projects.  Chris Phillips, a landscaper, enjoys helping to maintain the orchid collection and other plants in the greenhouses.  Individuals interested in volunteering can contact Kim Lefebvre, the Volunteer Coordinator, by email at or by calling 207-883-6680 ext. 103.

It was a cold day outside this past December when

Unique Maine Farms visited the Seedling Program.

Very little can compare to the warmth of a greenhouse on a Maine winter day.  With the welcoming nature of Kevin Kearns, the staff, and the participants, there is a distinct sense of well-being and peacefulness in the greenhouses.  The concept of seedlings taking root, thriving, and developing further, that was discussed in the introduction of this profile, is very evident.

The Seedlings Program at the Morrison Center is another great example of how farming and gardening can truly be for everyone.  With thoughtful planning, individuals with disabilities can become involved with productive plant production.  Like all types of seedlings, they can begin a very significant journey of growth.


Seedling Program Director Kevin Kearns (on right) is shown with Mark, who has been a participant in the Seedling Program for over twelve years.

Some PlantsMorrison_-_Some_Plants.html

Chris Phillips has been a dedicated volunteer in the greenhouses.

Jesse has enjoyed participating in the Seedling Program.

Jesse checks out his bi-weekly payment for the sale of his plants.