-- One Person at a Time

Agrium grant2One Person at a TimePerry Wellness Center has frequently used gardening as a tool to help our peers cope with and recover from mental illness and substance abuse. After all, researchers have found that gardening can significantly reduce stress and boost mood, encourage creative expression, and even promote overall brain health.

Each year the gardens and greenhouses on our growing campus have expanded, as peers embrace the garden experience and customers at the center’s Happy Patch Market look for fresh produce.This past summer several peer clients were even growing tomato plants in buckets at their homes, as gardening became a part of their at-home wellness programs.

After experiences such as these, staff came up with the idea of creating a community garden of raised bed gardens on campus. Peers could be taught to plant and harvest their own crops – an activity that would help cultivate both nutritional food and a healthful hobby.

To support the new project, application was made for a grant from Agrium, Inc.’s “Growing Together/Feed the World” community program. Agrium is a major retail supplier of agricultural products in North America, South America, and Australia, and a leading global producer and marketer of agricultural nutrients.

Results were successful, and officials from the local Agrium Wholesale Granulation Plant in Americus recentlypresented a check for the new project. But the local business’ involvement promises to be more than financial. Agrium representatives will also work closely with us by providing their expertise, education and physical labor as a part of the grant. They will help teach and assist interested peers with bed preparation, planting of their gardens, and proper fertilization, watering, and harvesting of the produce. Pest control, composting and growing of year- round crops will be practiced.

“We are so excited about what this program means for our peers,”said Phyllis Smith, who is the contact person on the Agrium project and our whole-health coach. “Most of our clients have never had a garden of their own. Having their own garden plots will give them a sense of ownership and enhance their self-esteem.” Phyllis believes that the project will also enhance peers’ sense of community, as they work side by side to grow their produce.

Another positive aspect of this project is that it will fit in extremely well with our new Whole Health Action Management (W.H.A.M.) initiative. This program promotes self-management of behavioral health problems and helps peers set personal recovery goals and strategies – which often relate to positive methods of reducing stress.

Stuart Perry, for one, is enthusiastic about the Growing Together/Feeding the World project and looks forward to working with yet another local business to promote wellness. Notes Stuart, “We appreciate this opportunity to ‘grow together’ with Agrium as we ‘feed the world’ one person at a time.”

Thanks, Agrium, for being a great neighbor and partner in our community!

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