When the new Linworth farm market opened April 14, it was pouring rain. The owner wasn't discouraged, though. He has been through rain and knows sunny days are coming.

When the new Linworth farm market opened April 14, it was pouring rain. The owner wasn't discouraged, though. He has been through rain and knows sunny days are coming.

Dennis Kerr is the president of Hope Thru Housing (HTH), which operates the farm market at 2395 W. Dublin-Granville Road. He and two residents of the residential substance-abuse program manned the shop, selling eggs, cheese and flowers to the few customers who had braved the elements.

He said he hopes attendance improves as the season draws on and as the inventory draws more heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables from Ohio farms. He said he expects asparagus and rhubarb to arrive soon, followed by the regular farm-market fare of strawberries, corn, beans and tomatoes.

The market will be open until December.

Thus far, the farm market has a full range of plants and flowers for the garden, along with fresh, organic eggs, Amish cheese, pies from Stevens Bakery in Springfield, jams, jellies and pickled beets.

"In a week, we will get cut flowers; then this (market) will be full of produce," Kerr said.

Kerr, a Columbus native, returned to the area two years ago to be with family and to start a drug and alcohol treatment program based on the Trosa program in Durham, N.C.

Ten years ago, he was a client of the program, which turned his life around, and has graduated more than 1,100 people back into society from a downhill spiral, according to the program's website.

Kerr stayed on with the program for eight years and came home ready to work to start a program that he has seen help many others.

Thus far, he has obtained a 501(c)(3) status for the HTH program, has purchased its first house in central Columbus and has his first two clients. The house could hold seven, and he is confident it soon will be filled.

The 30-month residential treatment program is based on the principles of self-help and individual empowerment.

Vocational training is key, and the farm market is the first of what Kerr expects will be several business ventures that will both support the program and provide opportunities for clients to learn work-related skills.

Several HTH clients will work alongside a staff member at the market.

"This is a good place to learn business skills and develop strong work ethics, plus the market provides a location that area residents can count on for great fresh foods and plants," he said.

The farm market and other business ventures will pay for about 60 percent to 65 percent of the program cost, with the rest coming from donations and foundations, he said.

Next year, he hopes to start a lawn business, with HTH residents learning landscaping skills. The son of a golf course owner, Kerr knows that teaching clients to operate the specialized mowers used on courses should give them an edge in the job market.

The clients also work on the HTH house, and Kerr hopes to soon purchase a second house for them to renovate. The building-trade skills they learn also will help them in the future, he said.

"Once they graduate the program, they have skills to take with them," he said.

The HTH farm market hours are 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 a.m. and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends.