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New greenhouse, cafe and event venue bringing hope to children with autism

Posted on August 30, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

A new business in Lethbridge County is leading the way in innovation with its sustainable farming practices using vermicompost, and inclusive hiring practices.

“The Venue for New Hope” was one of the many hosts in the southern region to participate in this year’s Province-wide Open Farm Days on Aug. 19-20, which gave participants a behind-the-scenes look into various farm and ag-related ventures.

Owner Suzie Irwin said the event was a success, bringing people in to explore the property.

The Venue itself features carefully curated vintage wares, with photo-ready staging that makes it a perfect venue for weddings, markets, and other events. The on-site cafe offers specialty coffees and teas, as well as hard ice cream.

Irwin has ambitious plans for the project’s greenhouse operation as well, which will eventually grow produce for the venue, utilizing red wriggler worms for vermicompost to focus on sustainable production, creating new soil for the greenhouse operation.

“This business is 20 years in the making,” Irwin explained.

Irwin’s son Ethan is autistic, and expressed to Irwin his dream of having a business where other children with autism could work and explore their skills in an inclusive space and told Irwin, “I want to hire kids with autism like me feel who maybe don’t feel like they can contribute, or struggle with self-worth and teach them, and teach them that they do.”

Irwin explained the business will be a place for kids with autism to, “explore their strengths and gain confidence to enter the work force.”

The venue is currently open for summer bookings for the next few weeks.

The venue is being used for weddings and events, and houses old antiques gathered from their farm over time.

“Our Venue has been in the works for 20 years. Every board has been put on in this building out of my determination.”

“I want people to come here and sit with a book and a coffee and just let life fall away for a minute. Have a coffee, read a book, and find yourself. That is what this place is about.”

Cafe hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday-Sundays. For more information on the new venture or to find information for venue bookings, visit https://www.newhopeyql.org/our-coffee-shop.

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