Volunteers of America, Utah’s Freedom Garden

My name is Celia Bell and I am a Horticultural
Education Specialist and I have been working here for twelve years. The Freedom Garden
is a place for the women at the Center for Women and Children to come and heal their
body, mind, and spirit. We’ve got a beautiful perennial garden and a vegetable garden area
and a green house. So I come on Tuesdays and Fridays, we’re in the garden for an hour and
a half and just depending on the time of year will determine what we do in the group. So
for today we picked raspberries, we worked in the greenhouse, and did a little bit of
weeding and then just hanging out and enjoying the garden. My name is Monique and I am a
client for the Center for Women and Children. I have been working in the Freedom Garden
for just about two months. I started coming over here the day after I got in to the center
and it’s really helped me a great deal. My favorite part of working in the garden is
the planting and taking care of the greenhouse, fertilizing, and I just pretty much love it
all. Weeding sometimes, eh not so much, but yeah I pretty much like it all. My name is
Kelsie Ivie and I am just a volunteer for Volunteers of America’s Freedom Garden. I’ve
been doing it for over a year. I have got to come here and learn how to grow things
and keep plants alive, whereas before I couldn’t keep a plant alive to save my life and I also
get to aid in and it’s been an awesome experience I’m able to bring my children with me if I
need to so that’s really helpful and it’s just beautiful. It’s sunshine and flowers
and plants and I love it. I was able to work with Carrey Gardens and they were able to
come in and work with me on redesigning the garden to make it a little more easy for us
to maintain in the short amount of time that we have in the garden and to make it more
beautiful for the women to create bouquets. The women love making flower arrangements
to take back to the center and so we really try to highlight flowers the women can cut
and take back and then really trying to again highlight the path of remembrance so we have
stones with names and ages of men and women that have passed away from addiction and the
women really love to come and reflect there and it has made it more of a space that they
can feel comfortable in and just relaxing and meditating and working on their mind,
body, spirit connection. Some of the fruits and vegetables that we do grow go back to
the kitchen over at the center. I myself have already picked some herbs and stuff that have
come to bloom to take over to the kitchen and have them use, which they have. Mainly
we get to use all the fresh fruit and stuff that we grow that we plant, when they’re in
season and the kitchen takes care of it and prepares it in our food. I think that, you
know, being able to grow it and then the women to be able to use it in their meals and add
flavor to their meals and also all those nutrients is such a big deal for them. Especially when
they’re coming in here and they’re coming in and they probably haven’t had a good meal
in a long time and their bodies are weak and they’re sick and it’s just a way to regain
their health. We think that’s really important. I think it’s important to have the garden
program for Volunteers of America’s Detox because it’s a way to, especially with the
women and children for them to bond with their children, to have a program that teaches them
how to be self sustaining so when they leave they learn all kinds of skills they can go
home, they can plant little gardens, and it’s a bonding experience it’s about, you know
there’s something about putting your hands in the dirt and you get outside of yourself
and you get outside of your head. I’ve been able to see women change their lives , so
I have past clients that now work with me in the garden and I get to see them thrive.
I think it gives them the freedom to get outside get some fresh air and just get away from
their problems and take the time to just breathe in and contemplate on their goals and anyway
that’s what i’ve done and it’s helped me a lot.

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