Brookhaven Retreat Begins Work on 2013 Garden

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Brookhaven Retreat, a unique residential treatment facility for women with mental health and/or substance abuse issues, begins work on its vegetable garden in May.

In May, Brookhaven Retreat begins work on its 2013 garden. It has expanded its garden to include a variety of vegetables as well as a selection of herbs with the goal of furthering women’s mental health recovery.

The garden is being planted with a variety of vegetables, including cherry and Roma tomatoes, bell peppers, squashes and runner beans. It will also include a wide range of culinary herbs as well as berries and ornamental flowers.

Clients and dining staff work together to develop and maintain the garden as a communal project. Studies have shown that gardening decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improves mood. A Norwegian study found that gardening significantly improves symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. The option to garden helps women at Brookhaven Retreat manage stress and anxiety by caring for plants.

The communal garden also gives women the opportunity to provide input in the types of plants that go into the garden and ultimately, the food that is prepared. The garden supports Brookhaven Retreat’s menu by enhancing dishes with fresh, quality ingredients that are grown on site.

Brookhaven Retreat has found that gardening is a powerful tool for wellbeing, and that time spent in the garden helps speed recovery from mental health and substance abuse issues. Gardening boosts self-esteem and, in addition to its other mental health benefits, provides a relaxing distraction. Women who help grow fruits and vegetables for consumption feel a positive emotional reward and better realize how capable they are.

Brookhaven Retreat encourages women to benefit from time spent outdoors and develop a connection with what they put into their body. It encourages women to participate in the community garden as a way of self-soothing and increasing both physical and mental wellness. Brookhaven Retreat hopes that upon completion of its program, women will continue to utilize gardening as a healthy habit to help maintain recovery.

About Brookhaven Retreat
Brookhaven Retreat is a women's treatment center nestled on a naturally beautiful 48-acre site secluded in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. It has helped hundreds of women across the United States overcome depression, trauma, anxiety, substance use and a range of other behavioral health challenges. Brookhaven’s Founder, Jacqueline Dawes, has predicated its gender-specific treatment on “healing emotional breakage” for women. In this way, she has established a sanctuary and a place where women can feel safe, secure and cared for by a staff of highly trained professionals.

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Jessica Wirth
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