CREATING A FEEDING FRIENDZY ON DISABILITY: A CONVERSATION WITH A GARDENER FIGHTING FOR HER COMMUNITY'S
What if gardening could get people off psychiatric medication? What if you gardening could eliminate a dependence on pain pills? Would you be skeptical or bring a garden to your community?
Well, had the privilege to speak with one of my favorite Instagram gardener's Jenn Corleone who with a foot of metal in her back was able to end her dependance on both psychiatric medication and pain pills.
Her page @feeding.friendzy is always posting and always growing. If you check out her page you will see a few hashtags you have probably never seen before, #challengesarenotlimits #thedisabledcangarden.
Considering her ability to grow a thriving garden giving what life has thrown her way, I find both to be true.
Now, Jenn was one of the happiest people I have talked to in a long time. So when she told me she used to be one of the most morbid and world hating people you would ever meet, I said how could that be?
Thats where we started to talk about how she used to be on psychiatric medication. Her outlook and thoughts were enough to warrant the prescription. At that point in her life she was in enough physical pain (the pain killers helped some) that it made her hate the world.
At the time she was living in Napa Vally in an apartment complex with other people on disabilities. After a while she got the itch to garden. After getting approval for the garden, things started to fall in place.
First, a compost company donated some soil. Then a local farmer donated some plants. Next, her neighbors started to become curios and then started to help. All of the sudden there was a new found sense of community as people had access to fresh and healthy food. Even shut in's began to help and found a new sense of value and inclusion.
Jenn has since moved to a new location and now shares a 1000 square foot space with a neighbor. Her new land lord gave her the blessing to start a new garden there. But, when your live on disabilities, money to start a new garden isn't exactly lying around.
What happened next is why things like Instagram and Facebook, in light of their downsides, really can make the world a better place.
Followers of feeding.friendzy helped her out by sending a few things to get the garden started and then some volunteers showed up to help build raised beds out of an old garage door and old fencing.
After hearing this I had to ask, "What's your biggest overall learning experience from all of this?"
To which she responded, "That people find what I'm doing to be fascinating. I used to be a pretty mean b!%ch, just ask anyone. I only saw anger and misery in the world."
The newfound sense of value and purpose with the ability to share that same value and purpose with others propelled her to drop both the anti-psychotics and end the pain pills. This is pretty great if you ask me, especially considering the foot of metal she has in her back.
Speaking with Jenn, it was easy to imagine why anyone would have a negative outlook today, especially when it seems society may have dealt you a bad hand on purpose. There are just so many ways to take issue with the world that we can loose sight of what people need. The more I work with people undertaking projects like Jenn's and seeing the benefits that come from a simple act of gardening, Jenn had a perfect summation up a realization that many of us have. "Food is a great place to start with any social issue. It's such common ground because we all eat."
As we wound down our conversation on the ins and outs of cauliflower, kale, calendula, peppers, and tomatoes, we did talk about her favorite favorite plant to grow. The benevolent potato won because "Its like Christmas, your not sure what your going to get until you open them up." She plants her potatoes with onions as a companion to fight the aphids.
To close, Jenn gave me a great bit of advise on gardening to share with everyone. "Don't be afraid to fail."
I took that to heart and if your reading this, I hope you do to. #challengesarenotlimits #thedisabledcangarden