Gardening has long roots as a form of therapy. Its’ benefits extend much farther than the healthy food produced; bolstering self-esteem, increasing social interaction, and the reward of learning a new skill.
One of the Guthrie Opportunity Center’s goals is to create a garden program for our participants that would increase independence, concentration, and provide a positive environment for learning outdoors.
Our first garden in 2018 was small and included a few select vegetables that were sold from a tent outside the On-The-Go Foods retail store. Participants and staff, along with volunteers from Nelson County High School’s agriculture program, enjoyed planting and harvesting together. It was from this humble beginning that we were determined to expand our program.
In January 2019, Eric Garris joined our team as Director of Garden Operations. As a Horticulturist at Bernheim Arboretum for the past 13 years, Eric worked to create Bernheim’s Edible Garden and shared in our vision for an expanded gardening program.
The 2019 growing season included 1.5 acres of gardens, with over 3000 pounds of vegetables grown and harvested by our participants. The produce was sold through Country Gardens and used in our Meals from the Heart program, which provides healthy meals for elderly and shut-in community members.
Our garden program continues to grow for the 2020 season. Thanks to generous support from so many, our goal of building a greenhouse has been realized. We now have 2500 sq. ft. of climate controlled growing space. We will be training participants in all aspects of greenhouse culture; seed starting, watering, transplanting, temperature control, soils and fertilization. They will have the opportunity to grow vegetables from seed to harvest in our gardens and produce hanging baskets of colorful annuals to be sold through Country Gardens. These new initiatives will provide healthy food options, job training, and meaningful employment opportunities within our community.