Monday, November 5, 2012

Hope Can Grow

Throughout our time, gardens have been seen as a thing of beauty, sustenance and a place for growth.  There are all types of gardens from vegetable, flowers, to zoological where we go to enjoy nature and take away memories.

The idea of a garden brings a calming and peaceful setting into mind as many of our clients would say. In particular, the call it “a place to get away from it all.”

Kansas City Adolescent’s A.R.T.C. program just recently completed the installation of our consumer named “Sobriety Garden” to show that “hope can grow.” For the last 18 months, Kansas City’s A.R.T.C. program has been on a journey to make this vision a reality. Each group of consumers over this time has contributed to the success of the project. The first stage of the process was envisioning what the ideal garden would look like. 

They continued to pour their thoughts of a place to “chill and rest their mind” into their ideas and discussions. One young person involved stressed that “the main point of this garden is to make someone feel welcome and have a place to get encouragement when they are not feeling their best.” 

As we researched the installation of the “Sobriety Garden” we found a long standing example to draw from called the Bellvue Sobriety Garden in New York.  In line with the sentiments of our  Kansas City adolescents, the organization had this to say about their garden:

“Since 1989, the garden has been a sanctuary for patients, and increasingly for staff and visitors, who come to garden, meditate, and relax amidst the flowers, greenery and unique folk sculptures and mosaics. Built by recovering addicts, funded strictly by donations of time, supplies and money, it is a showcase therapeutic site.” via RunningInterface.

Through participation in Lee’s Summit Downtown Days this past summer, displaying crafts for sale and face painting, money was raised to begin the purchase of materials. Within the month of September 2012, all of the consumers’ hard work and positive thoughts came to fruition by partnering with Get Growing Kansas City’s Sheri Harvel who is an organic gardener herself. Ms Harvel educated our young consumers on the late season planting and harvesting phase. She shared what plants would be best to garden for the season and described the symbolism of plants and how to utilize them for aroma therapy. They were also given information on how to maintain the garden and put their motivation and positive energy to work in growing the garden. In addition a very important nutrition component was conveyed, teaching these young people how to grow food and how to harvest food and eat well. The group then constructed 2 raised beds, added organic soil, and planted late season flowers as well as vegetables. 

These talented young people are continually shaping and creating art to plant in the garden as well. The art ranges from abstract concepts such as actual doors that represent types of people that may enter the garden, billboard murals, ceramic tiles, stair steps to recovery and even a light switch. Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Missouri Organic and our wonderful staff from the Kansas City site made it possible to move the project forward.

The impact on the group has been very positive. The group has experienced a more supportive environment, and has been displaying incorporation of transferable learning from the process of building a garden such as “it takes time to grow”, “I have a place to sit and think”, “I can’t wait to do this again”, and “ it’s cool to be able to help someone…I wish someone did this for me.”

Harvesting the late season vegetables will begin November first to show the fruits of their labor and the benefits of growing your own food.   

While the Kansas City site is in its first stage of the garden, there are plans for a 2nd stage in the spring. Currently, we are looking for grant opportunities to continue the work and instill hope and change in the young people we serve. 

 Get Growing Kansas City has awesome opportunities for small scale growers in our region. You can see their work at

-Tamiko French

About the Author: Tamiko French is the passionate and dedicated A.R.T.C. Regional Coordinator from Preferred Family Healthcare’s Western Region.

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