Do you know the children’s verse by Beatrix Potter? Students at Phoenix House Academy in Los Angeles may recite this poem daily, as, indeed, they do have a little garden of their own. Enrolled in the residential substance abuse treatment program, they attend a variety of therapeutic sessions, counseling activities, and school classes. Now, thanks to the efforts of Counselor Nate Bush, they have added tending an organic garden to their daily activities.
The brainchild of Mr. Bush, the month-old garden is growing quickly on the edge of the Lake View Terrace property. Twelve boys, ages 13 to 16 years, spend at least one hour in the garden after school: working, planting, watering, making raised beds, and meeting for group counseling sessions based on Boys Council curriculum. They started corn plants from seeds in small planting boxes in their counseling room. The seedlings were then transferred to larger containers (donated by Mr. Bush) outdoors, where the plants thrive. The garden also includes fresh herbs to be used in the kitchen (basil, thyme, rosemary – some from Mr. Bush’s own garden), as well as a grapevine, fruit tree, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
Mr. Bush commented, “The kids are excited to go out to the garden daily; they do not want to go back indoors! They work really hard, digging and planting, and this physical exertion helps them to be calm, improves their mood, and is a positive factor for their recovery. Nature heals: watching plants grow from seeds into seedlings and then mature with edible fruit or leaves is similar to watching yourself grow in recovery, from a simple seed of an idea to a changed life, a successful, drug-free life.” Teens also learn the basics of gardening and an appreciation for nature that remains following completion of treatment at Phoenix House.
If you or a loved one needs substance abuse treatment services or help dealing with mental health issues by consulting with well-trained, experienced, dedicated, and compassionate professionals, please do not hesitate to call us at: 1 888 671 9392.