Growing Together/Feeding the World
-- One Person at a Time
Perry Wellness Center has frequently used gardening as a tool to help our peers cope with and recover from mental illness and substance abuse. After all, researchers have found that gardening can significantly reduce stress and boost mood, encourage creative expression, and even promote overall brain health.
Each year the gardens and greenhouses on our growing campus have expanded, as peers embrace the garden experience and customers at the center’s Happy Patch Market look for fresh produce.This past summer several peer clients were even growing tomato plants in buckets at their homes, as gardening became a part of their at-home wellness programs.
After experiences such as these, staff came up with the idea of creating a community garden of raised bed gardens on campus. Peers could be taught to plant and harvest their own crops – an activity that would help cultivate both nutritional food and a healthful hobby.
To support the new project, application was made for a grant from Agrium, Inc.’s “Growing Together/Feed the World” community program. Agrium is a major retail supplier of agricultural products in North America, South America, and Australia, and a leading global producer and marketer of agricultural nutrients.
Results were successful, and officials from the local Agrium Wholesale Granulation Plant in Americus recentlypresented a check for the new project. But the local business’ involvement promises to be more than financial. Agrium representatives will also work closely with us by providing their expertise, education and physical labor as a part of the grant. They will help teach and assist interested peers with bed preparation, planting of their gardens, and proper fertilization, watering, and harvesting of the produce. Pest control, composting and growing of year- round crops will be practiced.
“We are so excited about what this program means for our peers,”said Phyllis Smith, who is the contact person on the Agrium project and our whole-health coach. “Most of our clients have never had a garden of their own. Having their own garden plots will give them a sense of ownership and enhance their self-esteem.” Phyllis believes that the project will also enhance peers’ sense of community, as they work side by side to grow their produce.
Another positive aspect of this project is that it will fit in extremely well with our new Whole Health Action Management (W.H.A.M.) initiative. This program promotes self-management of behavioral health problems and helps peers set personal recovery goals and strategies – which often relate to positive methods of reducing stress.
Stuart Perry, for one, is enthusiastic about the Growing Together/Feeding the World project and looks forward to working with yet another local business to promote wellness. Notes Stuart, “We appreciate this opportunity to ‘grow together’ with Agrium as we ‘feed the world’ one person at a time.”
Thanks, Agrium, for being a great neighbor and partner in our community!
"Spring Has Sprung" at Market
If you haven’t driven by our market and campus lately, please do so! The colors of spring are in full bloom, and the market is filled with a variety of potted plants and hanging baskets. We have also added small trees, such as dogwood and maple, to our inventory.
“Happy Patch Market is a bright a welcoming place,” agrees PWC founder Stuart Perry.
To celebrate the season, we’re offering a “Spring Has Sprung” special at the market. In selected plants throughout the market area, five (5) markers have been placed. If you bring a plant to our market desk, we will let you know if you have won a $25 GIFT CERTIFICATE that can be used with hanging baskets, potted plants, or produce.
Our special began yesterday, so hurry down to see if you can find one of the remaining markers!
In the photo above, James, Rhonda, and Kenneth display some of the latest market offerings.
James Goss Demonstrates Market Cheer & Dedication
As the weather continues to warm up, colorful hanging baskets and ferns are filling up the greenhouses and lots on our campus. We’re now in the process of re-potting plants that have outgrown their current pots or dividing and transplanting others. Our display and hanging spaces in our four greenhouses will soon be at capacity.
James Goss, a long-time peer at Perry Wellness Center, serves as a clerk at our market. His duties also include re-potting plants, which makes for busy spring days. James does not allow his partial reliance upon a mobile walker or wheelchair to slow him down, as he greets customers or mans his work station.
To enjoy warmer temperatures, James has found an arbor space near the market, where he greets customers as they arrive. Nearby lie the tools for his re-potting tasks, which include re-potting Verbena and ferns.
James’ dual mission is to share a smile with each customer and to re-pot a greater number of plants each day. Next time you’re at the market, see for yourself!
Edward Thomas Is Forceful Wellness Advocate
A long-time peer at Perry Wellness Center, Edward Thomas likes to point out that he has been a witness to Stuart Perry’s growth since the PWC founder first worked at Breezeway, a local mental health day treatment program.
“I have been with Stuart for many years and appreciate his efforts for mental health wellness and substance abuse,” the enthusiastic peer member says.
Edward – or ET, as he is known by peers and staff, has learned a spirit of dedication from this association, and it is one he applies to everything from peer support to health and wellness. Regarding the former, Stuart Perry points out that ET takes a direct approach to confronting peer problems at the center.
“We are peer-run at Perry Wellness Center, and many here can create situations that can cause problems for both them and me,” Stuart notes with a smile. ET has helped him deal with some difficult situations, although Stuart acknowledges that ET can be very critical at times. However, his candor is appreciated and respected by most at the center.
Lately, ET is applying his direct approach to his own program of personal health and wellness. For example, he supports recent healthful changes to the cafeteria menu at the center and encourages other peers and staff to “unite as a family” for better health, weight loss, and general wellness.
This week, Thomas was spotted hard at work on his personal exercise program. The new exercise regimen includes a vigorous workout on the elliptical machines, conveniently located on the overhanging porch of the classroom building. Rain or shine, ET is prepared to do his part for better health – and forcefully encourage others to do the same!
Product Display Is Vital Market Activity
As anyone who has ever worked in a store knows, keeping the merchandise stocked and well displayed is an important part of ultimately making sales. Rudy’s Happy Patch Market is no different. Six days a week, market preparations take place before any sales. As the gates are unlocked, peers quickly attend to daily routines on campus at and around the market. Everything from the grounds to the display bins are checked and prepared for another market day.
One peer who takes particular pride in his work is Mr. Willie, as he is known by both peers and staff. Each day he opens the market cooler and loads display bins with fresh produce. He checks all fruits and vegetables to make sure they aren’t overripe or damaged, before being satisfied that the market is ready.
Market staff team member Mulkey McMichael appreciates the extra effort:
"Mr. Willie is eager to check and display the growing inventory of fruit and vegetables at Happy Patch Market,” Mulkey notes. “He is also keenly aware of products that may display spoilage and removes these from the displays. I can depend on him for the best of display preparation."
In the photo, Mr. Willie sets out fresh bananas before he begins his morning market check of fruit and vegetable merchandise.