by Caitlin Huston
On a windy Tuesday morning, clients from Cardinal Services began planting the seeds for what they hope to be a fruitful and therapeutic project.
With about 35 clients participating, Cardinal Services, which works with people with mental disabilities, hopes the community gardening project can help their clients become more connected to the community. The center also hopes to use the fruit and vegetables grown from their Ivy Tech plots in the kitchen of the group home.
With headquarters in Warsaw, Cardinal Services has two group homes and a community living center in Logansport.
Mindy Eisenbise, coordinator of Cardinal’s Logansport office, said they decided to get involved in the community gardening in order to connect their clients, who she said often feel they don’t fit in, with the community through fellow gardeners.
“This is a good way of getting to know the community,” Eisenbise said.
Cardinal currently is responsible for eight of the 10 plots that have been constructed so far at Ivy Tech. But Thomas Henderson, executive director of the community gardening project, said he hopes to eventually fill the Ivy Tech lawn with garden plots and community members.
The goal of the community gardening project, which has sites set up at places like Franklin Elementary and Emmaus Mission in Logansport, is to teach sustainable farming and then allow gardeners to buy a garden plot and grow food for themselves and the community.
Beyond the culinary benefits of gardening, Henderson said gardening can also be therapeutic becomes of the “tangible” results the appearance of the produce gives the gardener.
“You get to see what you’ve done,” he said.
Henderson, who suffered a serious injury about seven years ago, said he also turned to gardening in order to recuperate.
“It treats you back with the same amount of respect you give it,” Henderson said.
The small size of the garden plots is also ideal for an easy project because they don’t require weeding, Henderson said.
Robin Rudd, assistant to the vice chancellor at Ivy Tech, said they decided to donate the land to the community gardening project because they believed in the benefits of gardening.
Rudd said they would have staff members who would be out working in the gardens with the owners of the plots.
The produce collected from the gardens will be served at the group home for “simple nutritious meals” and Eisenbise said they also plan to can and freeze the food to use year-round.
Eisenbise said they’re planning to take clients out to the garden on a weekly basis.
Henderson said he’d also be laying down plots at Emmaus and Peak Community Services in the coming weeks.
As she helped clients dig through the dirt and plant seeds, Tara Smoker, a Cardinal employee, said she was excited to see the clients engaged and having fun.
“It’s pretty neat,” Smoker said. “They’re getting involved.”
Clients participating in the gardening said they were having a fun, albeit messy, experience.
Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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