Addiction treatment specialists in Huntington are hoping something called nature assisted therapy is the next step for helping addicts in a program called GRo Huntington.
Jeannie Harrison lives in Huntington. She’s got an idea that people in the Huntington area are rallying around. She wants to create urban gardens throughout the city where recovering addicts can grow things along with volunteers from the community. The idea came from a documentary she watched about an urban farm in Detroit, Michigan, called Urban Roots. She said she liked the idea and knew it could help her community.
"We’ll be working with the community at large, there will be no one turned away from working on our farms, but we are focusing on individuals in addiction recovery, that is the demographic that we feel like needs the most help in this area," Harrison said.
She has two sites that she’s in the process of obtaining. One at 2315 10th Ave in Huntington and one at 307 6th Ave. Harrison said nature assisted therapy is the idea that addicts use their time growing things to help them overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol. She’s working closely with Recovery Point of Huntington to get those in the program working in gardens.
It’s an idea that’s already paying dividends at Recovery Point, where some residents have developed a garden full of different vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, corn and even watermelons. Ashley Noland is the Director of Development at Recovery Point.
"As soon as we put the garden in, the guys want to get outside and give back to the community. Everything that we do is really focused on getting outside yourself and giving back what was freely given to you," Noland said.
One of those gentlemen is Mickey Watson. He has been at Recovery Point since late November. Watson will soon complete his treatment program at Recovery Point, but he says he’ll stay on a peer counselor. The Red House native said being in the garden is just a time for him to think about his life and what he needs to do to continue to function.
"I call it mine and god time when I’m out here," Watson said. "Tilling up the dirt and getting everything ready for it, hoeing it out and planting seeds and some of the plants you have to grow indoors for 6-8 weeks before you put them in the dirt and once everything gets going its daily maintenance to keep the weeds out and when they start producing you have to stay out there on top of harvesting it cause if not you’ll just lose your crop."
Watson grew up on a farm. He said he despised farming when he was young and never thought that one day it would play a role in saving his life. Watson said working in the garden at Recovery Point took him back to a time when he would partake in some of his addictions while farming.
"I’ve never done this sober, gardening was part of it," Watson said. "You drank beer and gardened, you smoke pot and gardened, it was just the way it was. It’s just learning how to do everything over again in life, the knowledge is there, it just how to apply it now. "
Part of the program at Recovery Point is teaching recovering addicts the importance of giving back to the community.
"Man, I think every rehab should have a garden and everybody should participate in it," Watson said. "It teaches patience. Cause out their man even if you get aggravated with it, it’s just you and that garden. I come out here every morning, first thing I do is walk around this garden before I do anything else because it’s mine and god time, it’s me and him out there, that’s it."
Watson said that’s why he’ll help with the GRo Huntington gardens.