Spring has sprung at Bastion! From our thriving community garden to an abundance of new trees planted by generous volunteers, signs of new life are all around.
Headway participant Nick Valentino has been a leader in developing the community garden, building garden beds of various depths and sizes along with a fully functional chicken coop.
Nick’s carpentry skills combined with staff member Caity Bower’s sustainable gardening knowledge have brought new ideas and possibilities to Bastion’s outdoor spaces, while simultaneously bolstering our food program with fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs.
“It's free for anyone to go from the neighborhood here at Bastion, they go in there, pick and cook with it themselves because there's herbs grown down there too. But also, for the cooking group that Caity and Rachel do on Fridays, they'll go and pick from the garden and incorporate that in the cooking group that they do for the guys.”
When produce is plentiful, it’s picked and put in the food pantry fridge for residents or used by our two resident chefs, Shantrise Sykes and Sylvia Magee, in their community meals.
Gardening at Bastion is a skill and passion that’s being passed down generationally by resident Clarissa Moramarco, who has been part of the Bastion community for five years. Clarissa hosts twice monthly garden meetings for the children of Headway participants, and is working to include more resident kids in the future.
Clarissa has been gardening since she was 14, taking over for her father, a Navy veteran, after a heart attack prevented him from maintaining their outdoor spaces himself.
“I took over and I just started loving gardening and I love being outdoors and I like growing things I can give to people,” Clarissa says. “I also really wanted to combine the gardening with arts and crafts and cooking. So that's kind of what makes it unique.”
Clarissa likes to begin her sessions with crafts to help the kids settle down and give them time to chat and connect. On top of learning basic gardening techniques and the science behind how plants grow, the kids have also created custom plaques and plant kit containers.
“Each plant holder is as unique as the children,” Clarissa says.
Thank you to Nick, Caity, and Clarissa for promoting a culture of sustainable gardening and hands-on learning here at Bastion! And thank you to Nola Tree Project and the volunteers of SCA Health for donating your time and energy to help bring new trees and plant life to our community.
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