Gardening With The Homeless & The Mad
- Subject: [cg] Gardening With The Homeless & The Mad
- From: Adam36055@aol.com
- Date: Thu, 1 May 2003 10:26:53 EDT
Doing a kind of horticulture therapy program in a community garden with
homeless people, many of whom, when they are not in a stablizing shelter
situation (is this an oxymoron?) have their faculties compromised by drugs,
alcohol, madness - or all three - is a daunting challenge.
We have three residential programs on the block of the CCG ( Fountain House,
Project Return and a program for HIV positive, undomiciled teenagers). These
folks have garden keys at their centers and I'm happy to say that there have
been no serious program client issues over the last 25 years in the garden.
Generally, it has been some neighborhood folks who say, "that man is kind of
scary looking, or "You let those people in here?"
However, using a CG as a place to invite untreated, wild card homeless folks
is a risky business, especially if you don't have allied service agencies
allied with your effort. I could see, for example, a community garden
attached to a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or residential program as being
a valuable adjunct to their work. Especially if the homeless folks were
working alongside folks who still have jobs, homes, families and most of
their faculties...This would have a humanizing effect on the undomiciled and
the luck ones who still have a roof over their heads...
It would be hard, however, to keep it going because of myriad people
problems, not impossible.
<< Now, my question. I'm working with a garden for
homeless folks. The typical rules and dues structure
that works quite well for many community gardens (see
the by-laws on the ACGA website) won't work here.
Anybody got any ideas to share on how to structure the
organization and encourage 'buy-in' in a garden where
people have no home? There is no doubt in my mind,
though, that this garden fills a very important need,
giving folks a place to connect with the soil. For
some, expecially immigrants from farm backgrounds, it
is a godsend. >>
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