When asked recently to make a presentation on mental illness and gardening to the Dogwood Garden Club of Americus, licensed counselor Linda Kidd knew exactly who she wanted to invite – longtime friend Stuart Perry. Ms. Linda realized that Stuart could share not only his own experiences with gardening, but how he has used gardening as a therapeutic tool with the peers who attend Perry Wellness Center.
In her introduction to the program, Ms. Linda shared her research on the value of gardening in our lives and how it can boost our mental health. Feedback from those present included:
“Gardening is good for your soul.”
“Gardening clears your mind of troubles and eases conflicts.”
“Gardening is gratifying.”
“Gardening relates to our natural world as we sort any conflicts in life.”
“There is no one more eager to share the success of gardening with his recovery of peers at his Perry Wellness Center,” Linda Kidd concluded in her introduction.
When Stuart took the floor, he began by sharing his childhood experiences with gardening: “From an early age, I learned about plans and their growth and marketing. My mother and dad had three greenhouses in Buena Vista. My father enjoyed the daily maintenance and grooming of ferns, geraniums, and many other plants. He had a thriving service station on Highway 41 in Buena Vista. Many travelers stopped to chat with my dad and buy a beautiful fern or other flower.”
Stuart then shared the history of Perry Wellness Center, its focus on therapeutic gardening, and the integration of Rudy’s Happy Patch Market into the program. Most of the garden club members were already familiar with the market, which sells fresh vegetables and garden plants – many grown on site, as well as other foods and gift items. Several members shared glowing reviews of the service and products they had received at the market.
At the conclusion of his talk, Stuart shared individual stories of success with his peer family, demonstrating the value of a wellness and recovery program. He was presented a basket of member-grown fruit in appreciation for his visit and his work in the community.
Several garden club members dropped by to visit at Rudy’s Happy Patch only days after Stuart’s talk, motivated to see the bustling market after hearing so much about it. New customers are always welcome!
In the photo above are Linda Kidd, left, Stuart Perry, and Dogwood Garden Club President Elaine Henderson.