Healing Victims of Domestic Violence Through Gardens
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Project GROW (Gardening for Respect, Opportunity and Wellness) is a program of the Community Food Security Project, an affiliate of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute. The CFS Project seeks to help disadvantaged populations who have little access to nutritious foods and nutrition education find avenues to obtain needed resources. Project GROW came out of a study conducted by the CFS Project on the feasibility and impact of gardens in domestic violence shelters. Workshops were held throughout the state where the shelter staff came to learn the effects and how to create a garden. As a result of the enthusiasm generated by the workshops, the Department of Health Services Domestic Violence Section agreed to fund several pilot programs throughout the state. The CFS Project agreed to serve as the Technical Assistance and Training Evaluation Contractor. Each shelter will have a unique focus, such as horticultural therapy, job training, cooking classes, and children's activities. In keeping with our role, I have been conducting research to locate resources to facilitate the incorporation of the garden into the regular activities of the shelter. This includes resources on nutrition, horticultural therapy, children's gardening, and materials in a number of different languages on these topics and more. I will continue to research ways to evaluate the effect that these programs are having on the women and children. It is hoped that the positive effects will result in the implementation of similar projects in many more domestic violence shelters and in other settings.