With a passion for AIDS Care Ocean State' mission, Livia Harkow started the Women’s Community Garden Project at our Tanner Street location.
AIDS Care Ocean State helps people deal with the physical and emotional issues around HIV, issues that are frequently magnified by poverty. While everyone can agree that medicine can help keep HIV in check, it might be surprising to know that hopelessness, uncertainty and feelings of isolation can be a barrier to living a healthy life for an HIV Positive person.
That’s why Livia Harkow started the Women’s Community Garden Project at our Tanner Street location in 2018. In fact, during a therapy group,a client asked if we could start a garden. Livia, a graduate of URI’s Master Gardener program, knew it was a good idea to engage clients. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that horticulture therapy can really improve the spirits of HIV positive, low income people.
How? It’s an excellent way to talk about nutrition and self-care,and creates a feeling of community and purpose; all of which generates positive emotions, self-esteem and a meaningful appreciation of life. It nurtures the idea that a woman’s body is her own, a feeling that may be new to our clients.In practical terms, it leads to people more actively interested in taking their medicine and going to group therapy. Plus, they are eating healthier, learning life skills, and being a part of something larger.
Thanks to the partnership of some generous donors, including the South Side Community Land Trust and Earth Appliance, our clients have planted a garden of to be proud of. These dedicated women in our group therapy take pride in the beautiful and blooming organic garden they created, where herbs,tomatoes, lettuce and squash thrive in the sunlight.
Inclusion is a big part of the program. Garden beds were created to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so that people with physical limitations could also participate. An ACOS youth group has been invited to participate and Livia would like to expand the program to other ACOS Housing, such as New Transitions, Sunrise House and Austin Place.
Now, the program practically takes care of itself. The Community Gardening Project for Women continues to meet twice weekly using horticultural therapy principles. This wonderful program helps our clients combat isolation and give a sense of community to all who participate.
Would you like to help our clients live, happier, healthier lives by supporting programs like this one?