Wellness Wednesday: Garden Therapy

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At the Material Recovery Facility in Rapid City, certain groups are welcome to take part in gardening. The project not only nurtures the plants, but also the participants.

As the weather continues to grow hotter, the plants in our gardens also continue to grow. According to Health.com, gardening can lessen stress levels and be somewhat therapeutic.

At the Material Recovery Facility, students with disabilities come in once a week to garden.

“Definitely is therapeutic,” said caregiver, Mary Maiden. “I think, just kind of watching how things - once you kind of nurture them and see how they grow and develop - it’s a very interesting.”

Every week, four to eight students come to the facility’s education center, to help garden beans, cauliflower, sprouts, raspberries, beets and carrots. After just one month, the students seem to be enjoying it.

“They look forward to it every week,” Maiden said. “Every time I tell them we’re going to go gardening, they get really excited and they just love it. They can see that what they’ve planted and what they’ve done and watch it grow and be able to eventually eat it - it’s exciting for them.”

Some of the students started to take part in the gardening last year and even began conquering some of their fears. One specific student followed the guide of an intern and just like the plants, he too, began to grow.

"Last year we had a particular boy come, his name was Leith,” said Sustainability Coordinator, Beth-Anne Ferley with the Rapid City Solid Waste Division. “We had an intern working at that time and the intern wanted to take care of the tipi behind us, so he tilled it and got it all ready. Well, Leith kind of latched onto Wade and so they ended up working in the dirt at the tipi.”

However, it just so happened that Leith didn’t like dirt. But, once he saw Wade get his hands dirty – he too, did the same, preparing him for this year’s gardening season.

“Leith was the first one - right there - to get his hands in the soil - to start planting the seeds and planting all the plants,” Ferley said. “It’s amazing just to see this transformation."

Just like these students, a senior center group also comes to the therapeutic garden to pick all that they can handle. Once they’re done gardening, they’re ready to take their produce home.

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