Planting the Seeds for Transforming Generations

The power of gardens are often underestimated. The late actress Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to dream of tomorrow.” On the community level, gardens bring people together. They create a gathering space where a shared vision of growth can be contributed to, a powerful metaphor especially in troubled times.

Individually, gardens encourage physical activity and bolster mental health. Numerous studies have documented the positive benefits of being outdoors, and some research even suggests that the bacteria present in soil can be positive for our own biome. Gardens are especially beneficial for youth, who often now find themselves indoors and living sedentary lives. The emotional benefits of gardening have even found themselves into meditation practices as helpful metaphors. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh would often describe emotions as a garden. Rather than removing harmful emotional experiences such as anger, he would write, we can choose to water positive ones such as compassion and kindness to others.

Like the seeds planted, gardens need to be tended to. The IHC Community Garden at our Sells location was a true labor of love, made possible first by some generous funding from AZCH SABG CRRSAA. The overall focus guiding this project was engagement and outreach to the community, with an emphasis on the IHC team meeting members of the Tohono O’odham community within and with respect to their culture. At the opening of the garden they invited members of the community for the blessing and traditional dance done when planting.

The broader focus of this funding was to support positive interventions through community-based and traditional approaches. The historical trauma, couple with culture and tradition being robbed from Native people, still has effects on the community. We wanted to help members that are struggling with a feeling of belonging to learn that they don’t need gangs or substances but can embrace the amazing history, tradition and culture of being Tohono O’odham. Additional activities in this project included teaching traditions through community experts,  such as basket making, bead work, and pottery, as well as inviting experts in the community to present on traditional healing plants, comedy, and other cultural facets.

Due to the team’s commitment, the garden now has squash, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and beans, as well as fig, tangerine, lemon, and nectarine trees! We know this exciting project will continue to bear many fruits of all types as it develops for the community. Thank you, IHC Sells for your amazing dedication!