For many years, Northwest Journey – Amery has discussed the benefits and procedure of creating a vegetable garden. During June 2014, the garden became a reality. All of the work for the garden, except building the raised flower boxes, was completed by the clients with close supervision and instruction from staff. This included filling the boxes with dirt and fertilizer, planting the vegetables and flowers, digging the holes and assembling the split-railed fence, arranging the field rock around the edges, and filling the inside area with mulch. The clients took pride in the creation of the garden and are grateful for the compliments received by all. One client stated, “The garden gives us a sense of pride at the good job we did. And now we would be confident to do it again and know that we don’t have to worry about people liking it or not.”
It is the vision of Northwest Journey staff that the garden will be incorporated into the individual and group therapy process, as well as an educational experience for years to come. Each spring during the planning process, the clients will learn about the growing season, germination process, and proper care for newly emerging plants. It is the hope that future clients will be able to complete research regarding seed preservation and Northwest Journey would be able to grow plants from the previous year’s produce.
During the planting and growing seasons, the garden will be incorporated into mindfulness and grounding activities by being present while in the garden. Each client will learn about the need to nurture and care for the plants by watering, weeding, feeding, and pruning each plant. Group discussions relating the process of plant nurturing to human nurturing and success in terms of personal care and daily living skills will occur. Many clients seek hands-on activities and physical activity. As a result, the garden will be utilized as a therapeutic intervention to increase positive and effective communication and a sense of pride and accomplishment as a result of hard work.
During the harvesting season, the clients will connect perseverance and hard work to positive benefits by harvesting the abundance of produce. The produce will be utilized during individual, group, and recreational therapy to preserve, make, and serve a variety of delicious foods such as fresh salsa, spaghetti sauce, basil pesto, kale chips, and zucchini bread.