After a pause during COVID, the Mahoning Valley Family Garden is back in full bloom.
Thanks to the work of individuals from 15 different hospital departments, the 4 x 8 garden beds are bursting with an array of flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs.
“I sent an initial email asking if anyone was interested in participating in the Family Garden, and I received so much feedback and engagement,” shares Rebecca Wrightsman, emergency preparedness coordinator and manager of the Family Garden program. “It’s fulfilling to see people participating and the plots exploding.”
Rebecca sends monthly updates related to resources available, like wood chips from trees that were recently removed on campus, and helpful tips for maintaining a healthy and productive garden, like what and when to plant and fertilize.
The hospital provides the space, tools, dirt and water, and participants are responsible for the gardening, like planting, weeding, watering and the end-of-year winter clean-out.
Patients benefit from this community project, too. The rehab department is responsible for two of the highest beds for therapy programs.
“Our patients are always so excited to help with the garden and to walk down to admire the plants,” says Jascelynn Baird, physical therapist. “It is motivating for the kids to get outside and do something different, and we love it too.”
Rehab therapists utilize the garden to diversify treatment strategies for speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy and to work towards patient goals in unique and exciting ways.
“During therapy sessions, we use the garden to work on side stepping and squats, or we have patients help pick flowers and veggies, weed and water the garden,” explains Jaselyn. “They’ve painted rocks, and pumpkins last fall, to decorate the garden, and overall, it has been a great tool to connect with our patients that share an interest in nature.”
Anyone in the hospital community can get involved, and family members of employees or patients are also welcome to join in cultivating the garden. For information on how to get involved, email Rebecca Wrightsman.