The Secret Garden aims to provide a platform for educational programming in nutrition, diet, and overall health to our riders, volunteers, and the community at large.
The plan to start a garden at Storybook Farm was just a teeny seed in the Fall of 2015. Less than a year later, our teeny seeds blossomed into a full-fledged vegetable garden in which our riders and their families can touch, see, smell, and even taste the magic of Storybook. This garden is yet another example of Storybook’s unwavering commitment to its families. We hope in the same way that the garden in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel enriched her character’s lives, Storybook’s garden will cultivate opportunities for our riders and their families to learn, grow, and explore God’s wonderful creations.
The benefits of garden environments have been documented since ancient times. In the 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and recognized as the “Father of American Psychiatry,” was first to document the positive effect working in the garden had on individuals with special needs.
In the Secret Garden, techniques are employed to assist participants in learning new skills or regaining those that are lost. Activities are carried out that improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. For those with physical limitations, gardening can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance. And everybody benefits from learning to work independently or cohesively while problem solving and following directions.
Secret Garden has come a long way since February 2016 when we were simply compiling designs and ideas. A quick six months later, summer and our garden are in full bloom. With the help of the community (and 5,283 gallons of water later!), terrific sights and sensations abound providing endless educational opportunities.
Just like Storybook’s equine and small animal activities, this horticulture experience will enrich our riders through the harvesting of produce like sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, spinach and much much more. One of the practical benefits of Secret Garden is to partner with the City of Opelika’s Carver-Jeter Plan, which addresses the problems of food insecurity and childhood hunger in Lee County. As our riders have given so much of themselves to us, Storybook hopes to give back to our community with the help of our kids who enjoy getting their hands dirty. With a little friendship, determination, and perseverance, Storybook’s purpose will continue to bloom!