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Gardens, Greenhouse Will Help Evergreen Club Blossom

Thu., Oct. 16, 1997

People recovering from mental illness in Spokane are getting a chance to grow.

The Spokane Community Gardens volunteer group is installing 20 raised-bed vegetable gardens for the Evergreen Club.

The volunteers will be doing the work Saturday on a residential lot behind the club at Sprague and Helena.

The new vegetable patch will become part of the club’s mission of helping people with mental illness.

The Evergreen Club earlier this year received a $12,000 grant from Spokane County to install the raised beds and install a heated greenhouse.

It’s too late to take advantage of this year’s growing season, but the beds will be ready to go in the spring.

The greenhouse, which will be installed later this month, is expected to provide some winter vegetables as well as flowers and plants for the club.

Once the gardens are in full production, they will provide food for the club’s low-cost cafeteria and possibly enough surplus so club members can sell produce at a vegetable stand in the club’s thrift store.

“It’s an opportunity to be outside with a real reason to be outside,” said Rita Whigham, a club member. “There are so many benefits that could come out of this.”

The Evergreen Club is an arm of Spokane Mental Health.

It provides work training and social opportunities for people with mental problems.

The club offers job experience to help members become self-sufficient.

The gardens will give club members the opportunity to learn how to raise plants. Those skills could be used to get hired at a nursery or other plant business.

“It adds a whole other dimension to work experiences,” said Sue Grant, coordinator of the club.

Club members have been calling nurseries and other businesses for donations for the project.

Already they have received perennials and other ornamental plants for landscaping the gardens and yard.

The vegetable beds are going into the yard of a home that was bequeathed to Spokane Mental Health years ago. The house will be used for club members.

Landscaping is planned for a vacant lot adjacent to the home.

The lot is like a minipark for club members.

Club member Ross Manes said the project will help beautify the neighborhood and offer club members a chance to learn about gardening.

Members of Spokane Community Gardens have offered to provide expertise as gardening mentors to the club members.

Manes said he’s excited about the chance to work with plants, especially in the heated greenhouse.

“In the winter, we’ll have fresh flowers to beautify our club,” he said.

, DataTimes


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