BOULDER, Colo. (Sept. 3, 2019) – InterNACHI® and Cozy Coats for Kids Founder Nick Gromicko has announced the formation of another registered charity designed to teach children about gardening and harvesting fresh organic produce. The Produce Maze will acquaint children with organic gardening, plant identification, and nutrition. Open next year to schools and other educational groups, children will be able to pick organic fruits and vegetables and take them home to their families at no cost. Families who pick will also be able to take the produce home for free. The menu for the all-organic garden will include beans, peas, cucumbers, squash, melons, tomatoes, berries and grapes.
Designed similarly to popular corn mazes that spring up in the fall, the Produce Maze will be formed by produce grown on sections of trellises. The trellises will be constructed of hardened steel pipes, donated by the local oil industry, and 15,000-pound working-load stainless steel cables. Gromicko has already constructed a successful prototype in Weld County, Colorado. Construction of the new Produce Maze will begin in early spring of 2020 on a farm lot donated to the charity by Gromicko’s wife, Olena Sepyahina, founder of Massk®.
In addition to the fun and creative aspect of a maze, “Growing food vertically increases the yield dramatically,” says Gromicko. “It saves ground space so you can plant a greater amount and a wider variety of produce.” He adds, “Another big plus is that vertical growing helps prevent fungal diseases, which can plague fruits and vegetables that can’t drain adequately.”
Agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere has agreed to sponsor special bags that children and families can use to carry what they pick and take home for free. The specially-designed bags also allow the children to use them as backpacks to haul the fruits and vegetables out of the maze.
“We understand that having garden-fresh, organic produce to feed your family can be challenging for a lot of folks,” says Gromicko. “So, we want to make sure we help meet that need, as well as provide education to children who are growing up in one of the most beautiful and fertile areas in Colorado. We want them to know that it’s ‘Fresh & Free When You Pick It Yourself!’ – that’s our motto!”
Gromicko’s other registered charity, Cozy Coats for Kids, has been awarded tax-exempt status and is primarily funded by members of the inspection industry. Executive Director Maggie Aey manages the nonprofit and has developed other avenues for people interested in donating, such as AmazonSmile. The defining feature of the nonprofit is that children can receive a winter coat in their favorite color and style. “It’s how we help build their self-esteem and sense of empowerment,” she says. “Unlike a coat drive, where they receive whatever’s available, Cozy Coats for Kids allows children to choose the coat they want in their favorite color. And we shop for it, and then deliver it to the folks who give us the children’s names.” Cozy Coats for Kids has delivered free coats to thousands of children since 2004.
Aey has also been named Executive Director of the Produce Maze.
Gromicko adds, “We can never do enough to help children grow up healthy and happy. Whether it’s keeping them warm during the winter or feeding them fresh, organic produce in the summer, InterNACHI® is dedicated to being part of the solution.”