windreach hh 2014Anna Terceira, Life Skills Coordinator, takes joy in produce grown by participants in the WindReach adaptive gardening programme (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

An inside look at WindReach's Life Skills gardening programme

By Jessie Moniz Hardy

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant, author Robert Louis Stevenson once said.

Unfortunately, if you have fine motor skills problems, like some clients at WindReach Recreational Village, sowing seeds can be a real challenge.

Anna Terceira, WindReach Life Skills Coordinator has found a life hack for that. Mix your seeds with sand and put it in an empty Parmesan cheese shaker.

The sand allows the seeds to be distributed evenly when the container is shaken over fertile ground.

The Life Skills programme at WindReach now offers a gardening component that is an offshoot of Greenrock's Healthy Harvest programme and is sponsored by Ace.

"The community gardens at Wind- Reach are a big part of the Life Skills Programme," said Miss Terceira. "The gardens were initiated by GreenRock's Healthy Harvest programme, and services children and adults with special needs.

"Some of the participants are students who find the classroom a challenging learning environment.

"These students can participate in different activities and tasks in the community gardens to meet their educational goals."

The community garden at Wind- Reach were first sowed in March 2013, the same month that Miss Terceira began at WindReach.

Since then, the gardening programme has grown from one adult and 12 students to 15 adults and 33 students. Miss Terceira would like to see the programme grow even further.

To that end, she has just received a Garden Club of Bermuda Scholarship to study for a horticultural therapy certification from the Horticultural Therapy Institute in Colorado, accredited through Colorado State University. Her course will be a hybrid course that will allow her to spend short stints abroad engaged in intensive hands on learning, and then the rest of the time at home in Bermuda working through distance learning.

"I worked closely with Omari Dill of Greenrock," said Miss Terceira. "When I started, I didn't have a green thumb to save my life; I couldn't even keep a cactus alive.

"He was able to really show me how to grow things and what it all means. I have pretty much learned everything from him, and through books and research."

She said there is a petting zoo at WindReach, but not everyone is an animal person.

"I have yet to find a client that doesn't thrive in the garden," she said.

Miss Terceira said she's seen some pretty amazing results from the gardens which she has scattered across various free corners at WindReach.

When one boy started in the programme he could only shrug and hang his head when asked what he wanted to do in life.

After three months of involvement with WindReach's new gardening programme the boy was wearing a big smile and had an answer: farmer.

"That's great," said Miss Terceira, "Bermuda needs farmers."

In another case, a young woman took some produce home and made a salad from several different lettuce types grown at WindReach.

"That was the first time she'd made dinner for her family," said Miss Terceira. "She was very proud. It gave her a sense of accomplishment."

Miss Terceira said it is not just about growing things.

"You are bringing in health awareness, nutrition, vocabulary words," she said. "We grew three beds of edamame, which most people don't think you can grow in Bermuda.

"We took them up to the kitchen and cooked them. You boil them for three minutes and add salt. Our clients took the edamame home to their families."

Organising a gardening programme for people who have physical challenges can require some creativity as not everyone can easily kneel down besides a patch of garden and lean across a wide garden border to work the soil.

For example, to grow carrots, large pots were mounted on milk crates to allow people in wheelchairs to reach the soil.

"Some of our participants have never had the opportunity to garden before," said Miss Terceira.

"It is not just the participants in the programme who are benefitting, it is also volunteers," said Miss Terceira. "We have an amazing group of volunteers who work on different projects in the gardens."

Miss Terceira said they were clearly seeing the benefits of the programme.

"Now we want to expand on that experience," she said, "and reach more people. Awesome stories happen every day at WindReach."

The gardening programme is always in need of equipment such as adaptive gardening tools, watering cans, and Saturday morning volunteers.

For more information call Wind- Reach at (441) 238-2469 or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Original Article

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