AUBURN, Ala.—Cancer recovery can feel like a long and lonely road. For the 14.5 million people living with and beyond cancer in the United States, daily struggles are a reality.
Auburn University’s Department of Horticulture, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Home Grounds Team, Alabama Master Gardeners and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center have partnered together to bring hope and healing to cancer survivors through Harvest for Health, a mentoring program. This new, five-year project is poised to mentor 425 cancer survivors through growing a home vegetable garden. While the program has partial funding from the National Institutes of Health, funding is $30,000 short of the total need.
Tiger Giving Day Project
Harvest for Health is one of more than 20 projects in the 2018, Tiger Giving Day effort on Feb. 21. Donors can contribute to Harvest for Health by choosing “Healing Gardens” on the Tiger Giving Day website, http://tigergiving.org. Donors may also contact Kerry Smith in Auburn University’s Horticulture Department (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Harvest for Health
Each survivor partners with an Extension-trained Master Gardener mentor to tend a home garden. For 12 months, survivor and mentor plant, grow and harvest the vegetable garden.
Program Benefits Both Survivors, Mentors
Recently, one participant wrote a letter to her Master Gardener mentor.
“I enjoyed the Harvest for Health program so much,” she said. “Gardening has become the first thing I do every morning. I think the best thing you taught me is to ‘have fun with your garden.’”
“It takes a special person to be drawn to a volunteer activity where you are helping a person with medical difficulties,” Smith said. “It’s not a fit for everyone, but the volunteers who do choose this activity are priceless. They have a gift, so it is a blessing to be able to work with these people. The Master Gardeners volunteers feel rewarded too. Some say they feel they get more out of this than the cancer survivors.”
One mentor said, “What can seem so simple in sun, soil, water, and a seed can be a miraculous life-changing point. This was my cancer survivor’s garden.”
Smith said through your generous donations, together, we are all inspiring cancer survivors to garden at home.