On March 31st, the vocational education services garden produced its first harvested crop. Two residents of the state supported living center at Rio Grande State Center harvested nearly 30 pounds of radishes. Six additional residents, with the assistance of two vocational staff members transported the residents to donate the radishes to the Harlingen Loaves and Fishes for use in their meal program. The residents were happy to donate to those less fortunate and introduced themselves and where the radishes were coming from.
On Friday, April 7th, some of the residents harvested zucchini squash (15 lbs), spinach (7 lbs), more radishes, and summer squash (7 lbs).
This harvest was donated to the Outpatient Clinic as part of their program goals for their patients to promote the consumption of healthy and fresh vegetables. There were 4 residents who participated in the distribution of vegetables at Friday’s event. In addition, Manuel Mendez and Belinda Perez, the two vocational staff who have helped plant, maintain, sort and bag the vegetables were also present to help with the distribution. When asked how it felt to help others, one resident responded “It makes me feel happy.” With big smiles and lots of “high fives” they all returned to their respective homes.
The residents have lovingly named their garden “Our Garden” so that when they donate the harvested items it will be from “Our Garden” to you.
This project is not only allowing our individuals to develop better social and job skills for community transition it is also helping them to work with each other. Later the same day two residents thanked each other for their contribution to the donation (harvesting and delivering).
When one was asked how he felt donating the items to a shelter where people are less fortunate he stated “it makes me feel good” with a huge smile on his face.
“Our Garden” continues to produce fresh vegetables in a raised garden bed that was donated by the Citizens Volunteer Council for use by the individuals served at ICF-IID. This garden has allowed individuals to explore the joys of gardening and learning the process of cultivating, nurturing and maintaining a working garden.