Returning to the heart of therapeutic gardening at Providence Nursery

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By Alicia Taylor, Providence Farm

Each spring, we as gardeners and farmers have the chance to adapt and make changes to what we saw in the soil, the plants, and the weather from the previous year. As a result, perhaps we change the varieties we seed, or save more water, or even begin to test out a few new crops like tea plants or olive trees. For certain, however, the change creates a particular amount of excitement and nervousness to see how our efforts will fruit in the coming year.

It’s just that kind of year at the Providence Nursery. Except not only are we shifting what we are growing, we are changing how we do the growing and for what final purpose. At the heart of it, our shift is to ramp up how much food we produce for our Providence Community, and to change our focus from a commercial to a therapeutic nursery.

Walk into the nursery this coming spring, as you visit our Providence store, or attend our annual plant sale and garden party in April, and you will quickly feel the shift we have undertaken. Plant tables have been repurposed for raised beds, commercial rows of tables have been weaved for your meandering and sitting pleasure. It’s time for you to take in more of our therapeutic experience, perhaps enjoying a cup of tea in our gardens, or exploring our fruit shrubs we’ve cultivated from the farm. Because when we sit back and reflect, we realize our greatest gift is to produce food and to offer this healthy and healing space to reconnect to ourselves, our community, and the natural world around us.

On that note, wandering through the woods, or forest bathing, as some like to call it, is also becoming an increased activity at Providence Farm as we move towards Nature Based Therapy practices. These days, as we course through the many trails, we are resetting our focus to take it from the broad sweeps of buying commercial flower plugs, to grazing the forest floor around us for medicinal plants, adaptive fungi, and forest fruits. As a result, when you venture into our nursery now, you will also see a plethora of native plant species and have opportunities to ask questions about what is growing around us, including woodland strawberries, and wild gooseberries.

Extending our invitation to participate in this therapeutic environment is going beyond just redefining our nursery and pergola space. We are opening up our farm to share with our community the many types of programming we offer through a series of workshops. To begin, this coming April we will be introducing the meditative and incredible art of spinning, as a three day beginners workshop. Over the years, we have come to see that spinning yarn is sort of like… heaven. It’s soothing. It’s relaxing. It’s meditative. It’s centering. It’s a chance to just zone out, and now it is a chance for us to share this practice with you and using our beautiful natural farm fibres.

We are really looking forward to sharing our exciting new shifts here at Providence. And hope you will join us in our redefined nursery, in an upcoming Nature Based Therapy workshop and at our annual spring plant sale and garden party. Keep watch for us in the voice for upcoming events, and connect with us for ways to sign up and become involved –alicia@providence.bc.ca. Sweet gardening and therapeutic season to you!

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