You can grow your own food. And we can help!

Sweet Garden Healing

Jun 26, 2014

Julia Thiessen, program coordinator at the Environmental Youth Alliance, has a dream job. She works with patients and families at the Therapeutic Food Garden at BC Children and Women's Hospital. The garden is tucked behind the Mental Health building, and provides a source of fresh fruits, veggies and herbs incorporated into patient meals. “It is much much more then a food garden.” Thiessen says, “This is a place for healing, for rejuvenation, for learning.” 

There are five patients groups directly involved in the garden in Vancouver, Canada: Child Psychiatry Inpatient Unit, Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Unit, Eating Disorders Program In Patient Unit, Eating Disorders Program Day Treatment, and Heartwood - a program for women with substance dependence. Children and youth with mental health and substance use issues require varying approaches depending on their diagnosis. Julia tailors garden activities to specific populations to maximize therapeutic benefit. Sessions focus on seasonal activities that explore nature with the senses

Hospital staff notice a difference in patients, as one nurse put it, “They get a sense of achievement and peace from gardening.” 

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