Veggie Garden Supports Mental Health Recovery and Feeds Those in Need

September 20, 2012

SAANICH – An innovative community partnership is providing therapeutic food growing opportunities for clients at Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility while also providing fresh produce to the Mustard Seed Food Bank and Our Place.
Feeding Ourselves and Others is a 6,000 square foot garden located at Seven Oaks in the Blenkinsop Valley in Saanich,” explains David Stott, Project Coordinator. “Our gardeners range in age from their 20s to their 60s and they are all overcoming obstacles most of us cannot even begin to imagine — the growing of vegetables, herbs and other plants is helping them along their recovery path.”

The project has been made possible through organizational support from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Victoria Integrated Court and the John Howard Society, together with funding support from the United Way, the Victoria Parks and Recreation Foundation, the Evergreen Foundation, VanCity Credit Union and the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health.

“Recovery from severe mental health and addictions challenges takes many different paths,” said Dr. Ian Musgrave, Clinical Director, Tertiary and ACT Services for the Vancouver Island Health Authority. “Our garden project not only teaches participants valuable food growing skills, it also helps individuals work together and find focus and purpose – all in support of their recovery.”

“This project is a great example of the objectives of the new Victoria Integrated Court by having a variety of people and agencies working together at the community level to solve complex issues which contribute to criminal behavior and offer alternatives for individuals caught up in destructive patterns of behavior,” said Provincial Court Judge, Judge Quantz.

The garden project has a total of 14 participants; five of the gardeners are clients from Seven Oaks and nine are VIHA Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) clients. VIHA’s ACT teams provide services to clients who have mental health and/or addictions issues, behavioural challenges and are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Each gardener is responsible for their own 100 square foot garden.

“We support the gardeners in using intensive organic gardening methods to grow whatever vegetables, herbs and flowers they like,” said Stott. “We also have common garden beds where everything from lettuce and tomatoes to peas and zucchini are grown and shared among all the gardeners, the Mustard Seed Food Bank and Our Place.”

Media Contact:

Shannon Marshall,
VIHA Communications