You can Never underestimate the power of a small group of motivated people together.
I was honored to be invited to speak at the Peer Group Meeting at Veterans Rally Point ( VRP, for short),in the fall of 2022. My topic was Kitchen Gardens Big & Small , are perfect for Everyone.
In the fall of 2023, I was asked by the the past VRP Director of Military Services at Easterseals Capital Region, ( now, CT State Commissioner of Veteran Affairs) Ron Welch, and current VRP Director of Military Services, Lori Marriott, to create a proposal for me to design and install a small Therapy Garden for VRP. This Therapy Garden would also benefit the communities at EasterSeals Capital Region and Adult DayCare Support.
This proposal was submitted to gain grant funding from Chelsea Groton Funding, and at the end of June, monies were donated; the first Easterseals /Veterans Rally Therapy Garden was born.
The last day of June 2023, colorful flowers, fragrant herbs and several varieties of vegetables were planted; we added beauty And enjoyed watching food grow before our eyes.
It seemed that everyone, all the departments came to together to be involved:
The Pottery class teacher, Kristy, and her students helped by creating beautiful label stakes to identify our herbs. The Makers’ Department, Tom, Jim, Mike and Ken were invaluable with their construction talents, added muscle and with their donations of garden supplies. Lori, Saschia and Thena kept everyone informed about upcoming events, opportunities for members to be involved.
The Therapy Garden became a central location that the staff members would visit before and after work, and that visitors would check out before and after attending classes. I found out later that a few visitors who are avid cooks, took advantage of the abundant growth of basil, rosemary and oregano to snip and add to their own home-cooked dishes And to dishes created for the Peer Group meetings.
The extra lavender was featured and enjoyed by over 20 attendees at the midsummer CareGivers’ Retreat. The cherry tomatoes were too big of a temptation, and were plucked from time to time by passersby. ( Perfect)..
What was grown here at the VRP Therapy Garden was not only a bountiful harvest of food and herbs, but also a great sense of community. We selected a Point of Care Team, headed by Craig Amborn, and included Dorris Hamill, Mary and Bill Kirby, Janet Lussier, and Pam O’ Malley.
These dedicated volunteers were the backbone of this successful endeavor. This team was responsible for the
day-to-day tending and watering.
During the months of July, August, September, and October, members joined me every 2 weeks, to harvest, and prune and to learn gardening skills. Attendees learned basic gardening skills, including spacing, pruning, propagation, pest identification and control, composting, and seasonal planting.
We all prospered and learned from each other. We experienced firsthand, that Horticultural Therapy, growing a garden Together in a group, improves physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It reduces stress, promotes relaxation, enhances cognition, fosters community, and provides gentle exercise.
It truly was a Magical Experience, growing Food for our Tummies, and gaining Peas of MIND.