We reached out to a former Cornerstone Advocate and current DASH ambassador extraordinaire to talk about the community garden that she started in her time at DASH.
What motivated you to create the garden at DASH?
Well, there was a small garden plot to begin with, so we expanded to include perennial herbs and flowers and more vegetables. There were several residents who were into gardening and cooking (especially in Afusat’s cooking class!), and their enthusiasm was the greatest motivating factor. Plus, I love to garden and be outside.
In what ways do you think the garden fits into the larger DASH model and mission?
DASH seeks to be a holistic space for safety, healing and empowerment, and gardens can be that just that. A garden is about so much more than food production. It can be a therapeutic space; a place where friends and neighbors gather and connections are made; a place where we experience empowerment and growth; where we witness transformation and change. In these ways, like DASH, at its best, a garden is a home.
What is your favorite memory of the DASH garden?
I have many delightful memories with the kiddos in the garden – their wonder of strawberries, awe of sunflowers, enthusiasm for watering, their free spirited digging. One of my most memorable moments involved a resident who lives with schizophrenia. It was mid-summer and she had been spending time in the garden on a regular basis. She shared with me one evening after a doctor’s visit that her psychiatrist noticed a remarkable difference in her, specifically noting that she presented a lower level of anxiety and a greater level of clarity. Her medication had not changed; the doctor attributed this to her engagement in our garden. This was a powerful reminder that the DASH garden has an impact, not only in its beauty to behold, but also in tangible ways – physically, mentally, and spiritually — for us as individual and collective beings.