As an organic gardener, it’s tough for me to separate myself from the deep emotions that working with soil, in the early morning sun brings to my small corner of this vast planet. If I were a betting woman (never started because my Dad said if you can’t afford to lose it; don’t), I would say that every gardener feels the same way.
Gardeners know that growing plants is therapeutic whether you’re growing vegetables, flowers or herbs. At the end of a long winter, warm soil, warm sun and the wonderful, rich aroma of earth just waiting for seeds or seedlings can lift the spirits of many.
Growing is good for the soul.
What makes growing even more fulfilling is when it’s coupled with programs that bring the joy, the peace and the satisfaction of bringing seeds to life — programs like The Growing Center in Frederick, Pennsylvania.
The Growing Center offers horticultural therapy programs that focus on youth at risk, the physically and mentally challenged and senior citizens. Using gardening as a healing element, the Center also helps people whose lived have been disrupted by illness or injury.
Programs are designed to improve participants’ abilities to do tasks and help them cope with the changes that have occurred sometimes unexpectedly in their lives. The Growing Center also offers horticultural stress relief workshops once a month for people who just need a break. And what better place to get it.
The Healing Garden at the Growing Center, a four-acre bit of heaven adjacent to the greenhouses, is a riot of color and scent from spring to fall. The gazebo offers a peaceful spot for just closing your eyes and relaxing. The pond, benches and shaded areas add to the pleasure and peace that people who come to the Center can enjoy.
Aside from its horticultural therapy programs and The Healing Garden, The Growing Center has also developed ten acres of its land into community gardening plots offered to anyone in the community who would like to grow vegetables for themselves. There is only one requirement – gardeners must give any surplus to a local food bank or others in need.
No fees are charged for the horticultural therapy sessions. Most of the funding comes from donations and from membership fees. And the Growing Center is a mostly volunteer organization. It grew out of the life experience of its founder and current Executive Directory, Linda M. Boyer, and her husband David who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1992.
Surgery left him in a wheel chair, one side of his body paralyzed. Costs for his care drained the Boyer’s bank accounts and almost led to the loss of their farm. Neighbors helped raise funds, saving the farm from foreclosure and their generosity led the Boyers to start this non-profit organization. Once they started, they never slowed down or looked back.
The Boyers and their neighbors are another example of people working every single day to help change the lives of others.