During our recent planting day at Stoddard Nursing Home, I had a moving conversation with a resident who told me how she had recently undergone surgery, and how the garden gave her an extra reason to recover the ability to walk. She wanted to be able to help out as much as possible. She also told me how great the sun felt, and how she was so happy to be outside in the garden. Her words reminded me of the optimism that gardening can instill.
Gardening certainly has therapeutic power. The physical therapist at Stoddard, Michael Kramer, was highly supportive and interested in the garden. On our planting day, he was the first staff member to plant in the garden, along with his patient Ms. Farley, who was the first resident to work with us in the garden. I had an interesting conversation with Michael about the ways gardening can help in rehabilitation. Gardening involves a variety of physical activities, ranging from the fine motor skills used to harvest herbs, to the gross motor skills of digging and watering. I look forward to continuing a dialogue with Michael about how the garden, and by extension Everybody Grows, can be of assistance in his work with his patients.
I had another interesting conversation about the therapeutic power of gardening with deputy fire chief David Foust. We talked about how firefighters work long shifts, and how their vital work can often be stressful and intense. We discussed the potential of the garden to help enhance mindfulness and offer a temporary relief. I know that in my work as a teacher the garden serves this role. Leaving the classroom behind and leading a small group to work in the garden can be be a welcome change for me and for my students. When we return to the classroom, we are refreshed and ready to learn and play.
I also want to share a recommendation for a book, called Accessible Gardening: Tips and Techniques for Seniors and the Disabled by Joann Woy that a staff member at Stoddard, Linda Ripley, shared with us. Thanks to all of our gardening partners for generously teaching us about their fields!