|Gratitude for Gardens and the People They Help
Thanks to you, our readers, for your love of gardening and your compassion for other gardeners. Thanks also to the individuals and companies that helped jump start our fundraiser to build a therapeutic vocational garden in Chicago for young adults with autism. Through the wonderful folks at Chicago Botanic Garden, we were introduced to an organization that is making an extremely positive impact on the lives of young adults who need career skills and training for an independent future. The Julie+Michael Tracy Family Foundation’s Growing Solutions Farm should be recognized publicly for their efforts in encouraging gardening.
During this season of giving thanks, we ask that you consider providing a gift to help the young adults with autism have a better life, and to ask your family and friends to do so as well. Our fundraiser is steadily moving ahead, but more help is needed. Donations of $25 or $50 are eligible for perks such as a Gardener’s Supply or Park Seed coupon for future orders. There is also a corporate perk of naming rights for one of the three storage barns used at the farm with a $1,000 donation. These additions will help the garden serve even more young adults by providing additional programs.
The garden’s expansion brings to life the Tracy’s vision from 2013, when the garden started with little more than a few growing containers on an empty urban lot provided by the Illinois Medical District. Listen to Julie & Michael Tracy’s story here about how they came up with the idea for an urban vocational therapeutic garden. By providing day programs for Chicago Public Schools, Have Dreams and Easter Seals, the Growing Solutions Farm offered paid employment to more than twenty young adults on the autism spectrum during the summer of 2014. An additional group of young adults worked at the farm through cooperative programs with Chicago Public Schools. Farmer Gwenne, an experienced urban farmer, joined the farm in 2013 to further design the farm, create the crop plan and train the workers on the many aspects of gardening, harvesting and being a good steward of the earth. Job Coach Tony organizes teaching modules on subjects such as how to take a break at work, how to give tours, how to interact with farm visitors and cooking classes using the food harvested from the garden.
During one visit, we asked one young man what he had learned in the few months he had worked at the farm. His response was priceless: “I learned how to use my words to give tours.”
That’s what a garden and good teachers can do for a young adult with autism!
To learn more about National Garden Bureau, the support this fundraising effort has received from national media and the progress we’ve made, go to www.ngb.org.
NGB would like to thank the following companies for their important product donations:
Garden Patch GrowBox
Irish Eyes Garden Seed
Lake Valley Seed
Oldcastle Lawn and Garden
NGB sincerely thanks the following companies for their cash donations:
Seeds By Design
Numerous studies and anecdotal stories show that most gardeners were led to the beauty of the garden by someone else who took the time to explain their passion and mentor the newbie in the basics of plant nurturing. Reflect on who influenced you to garden…and who have you impacted, even unknowingly, by pouring your passion into your yard, garden, raised beds, front porch containers, balcony plantings, etc. This holiday season, pass along your love of gardens for their beauty – and healthful benefits. Happy Holidays!