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Marine Sees Gardening as Therapy @ Federal City Community Garden

Jun 05, 2014

"The sense of community that has developed from the Federal City Community Garden is phenomenal. Our gardeners have become like family," says US Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Rice.

Since the garden's conception, Sgt. Rice has played a leadership role in the garden's operation. He has helped organize and has participated in three volunteer builds, which constructed a total of 41 cinder-block raised beds for active duty military, Reservists, Department of Defense workers, in addition to New Orleans Westbank residents, a population that has been traditionally underserved.

Michael served two combat tours in Al Anbar Providence (Iraq) and in Marjeh (Afganistan) and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He sees gardening as therapy. Always willing to assist in anyway, Michael is seen regularly at the Federal City Community Garden helping the other gardeners design, plant and maintain their beds while still managing our three compost bins. As Michael says "there is just something about putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually watching something grow from seed to harvest. You are creating and nurturing something absolutely beautiful. Gardening eases my stress and improves my mood while providing my family with fresh healthy food."  Michael and Brittany are expecting a new baby in July.

As an educational resource for the community, this spring, the Federal City Community Garden grew 30-plus varieties of peppers, with flavors ranging from sweet to absurdly hot and 20-plus varieties of tomatoes - many of which are heat-tolerant and disease resistant in our three large demonstration gardens. These demonstration gardens seek to educate the public on which varieties of peppers and tomatoes perform the best for our area.

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