At the Phoenix Houses of Texas adult residential program just south of Dallas, Texas, clients are growing in more ways than one. As part of the treatment program, there are vegetable gardens growing in both the mens’ and womens’ areas of the campus. The residents are taught basic gardening skills and are given the responsibility of maintaining the gardens. The gardening program provides clients tools and practice in taking care of, nourishing and being responsible for living things, whether it be vegetables, their families or themselves.
The process of growing the garden, as well as the emotional impact, is best told through the words of one of the program’s clients, Danyle.
My name is Danyle. I came to Phoenix House on April 19th, 2011. I began working in the garden regularly on July 18th. There was a brief period of time in which no one was allowed to work outside because of the high temperature. For about two weeks, the only thing I was allowed to do was water; so that’s what I did. When it was okay to work outside in the garden again, I went to it. In the garden, there are a variety of plants that require attention. I have to weed and make sure that I get all the roots because they grow fast. I turn the soil regularly to make sure that moisture in the dirt makes its way to the roots. Our garden contains cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, salsa peppers, squash, and zucchini. Monday through Friday, I work in the garden from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. I also have two assistants that are a great help to me. One of those assistants (Kimberly) and I recently tied the tomato plants up because a storm had flattened them on the ground.
I‘m not the one who planted the seeds, but I feel that taking care of the garden creates a nice impression on Phoenix House and how I feel about the program. I appreciate the chance and opportunity to work in the garden. I enjoy it very much and would like to start a garden of my own when I go home.
The fruits of your labor are healthy and delicious – keep up the good work!