Harvesting the "Fruits of Our Efforts"
We’ve told you before about peer Kenneth Christmas’ talents as a cook. But we have learned another skill Kenneth has – master tomato picker!
Sumter Sheriff a Favorite Market Patron
Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith is no stranger to Happy Patch Market and Perry Wellness Center, which he visits quite often. Sheriff Smith uses this time to speak to peers at the center and show hisinterest in their progress. While there, the Sheriff takes time to enjoy the current fresh produce at the market.
During a recent visit, Smith made selections from the plentiful displays of ripe red tomatoes (five for $3!). He was met at the counter of Happy Patch by long time professional associate, Rhonda Hubbard. "I think Rhonda has a real gift for greeting customers,” Sheriff Smith noted. “Each time I visit, I am greeted with a smile and welcome. We have developed a unique friendship.”
Later the same day, Sheriff Smith returned to the market to select a bag of freshly shelled peas, and he was again greeted by Rhonda, who began her custom of greeting local dignitaries when she first escorted former first lady Rosalynn Carter around the center’s campus.
Our thanks to Sheriff Pete Smith for his support and patronage!
In the above photo, Sheriff Pete Smith is assisted by Rhonda Hubbard as he selects choice tomatoes from the market.
Peers Harvest and Preserve Garden Produce
For many peers at Perry Wellness Center, the first phase of the Whole Health Action Management Program (WHAM) has concluded with a class in produce canning and preservation. This project began with a grant from Agrium, Inc., providing peers with their own garden plots to practice seed and plant selection, planting, fertilization, watering, and harvesting. For example, individuals learn such gardening techniques as finding the best planting position to permit the best sun exposure. One gardener, Wanda Lyles, volunteered, “I must plot my garden so some of the broader leafed plants will not block the sun from other plants.”
But garden lessons continue even after the plants have left their beds. Peers have recently been harvesting cucumbers, okra, and a variety of peppers from their self-maintained raised gardens. As the garden plots have flourished, peers’ garden education has shifted to preservation procedures.
Mulkey McMichael shared a favorite recipe for okra pickle with the group, explaining, “This was a recipe that my mother enjoyed. I now make these pickles as Christmas gifts to my choir. I thought it would be good to share this recipe as peers harvest their gardens. Many had not heard about or tasted okra pickles.” The recipe will allow peers to save the abundance of okra they have harvested and enjoy it in cooler months. Twelve pints canned by peers from their own campus gardens will be sold at Happy Patch Market this fall, after seasoning for three months.
Jeff Williams, a certified peer specialist and project leader at the center, said, “This project fulfills a part of our WHAM program. We used the project to convey planting, harvesting, healthy eating and giving to others.”
Some of the most important education from the garden project relates to social interactions. “We will encourage peers to preserve other harvests from their garden plots and present them as gifts for Christmas,” Jeff noted. “This project has been fun and will continue with the coming seasons.”
Our continued thanks to Agrium, Inc. for its support of a rewarding project.
In the photo, Kenneth Christmas, Phyllis Smith, Jeff Williams, Marquevius Sapp and Wanda Lyles gather to process okra for pickling.
Produce Program Expands to Tazewell
Recently, our readers have been hearing about our expanded outreach efforts at Happy Patch Market. The purpose is not only to share locally grown fresh produce with citizens throughout southwest Georgia – although we enjoy meeting this demand! But we also have found that sharing something as simple as fresh, shelled peas can also share the mission of Perry Wellness Center. As our peers grow and prepare produce for the market and then interact with customers and outside vendors, they provide an important message about recovery and help reduce the stigma of mental illness.
KARAOKE PARTY CELEBRATES WEEK'S END
You know what they all say about all work and no play. At Perry Wellness Center, we work hard in classes and throughout the campus. But we also make time for fun and fellowship. And nothing says “fun” like a session of karaoke!