The Therapeutic Community Garden
In 2019, Grassroots Gardens WNY was selected to receive a grant from the Garman Family Foundation, administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, to develop and research therapeutic community gardens for women and children living in residential facilities. The overarching goal of these gardens was to offer natural spaces for respite, stress reduction, emotional well-being, and connection to nature. Two out of the three garden sites selected for the pilot program were intended to be new installations. The first garden included in the pilot program serves 30 women and children annually at a confidential residence for Muslim women surviving domestic violence through Resources and Help for Marital Abuse (RAHAMA). The second garden included is located at the Erie County Youth Detention Center, which serves several hundred youth a year. We also planned to bolster the new garden that was installed in 2018 at Homespace's secure independent living facility for young women, most of whom are parenting or pregnant. 20-30 young women and children there will be served. In addition to the three pilot sites, Gardens of Compassion with Community Mission in Niagara Falls (located at St. James Methodist Church) and the garden at Jewish Family Services for survivors of torture are gardens in our network created for expressly therapeutic use.
Due to the unforeseen circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the installation work at our pilot sites was postponed in 2020. Homespace and the Erie County Youth Detention Center were still able to successfully implement a produce garden and a pollinator garden with the help of volunteers from the GGWNY Therapeutic Gardening Task Force and community members.
We hope to expand to more program sites over time.