‘Garden of Eden’ Provides Adult Services With More Than Just Produce

Behind the Old Trenton Road Day Center lies an oasis of vegetables, fruits, and flowers. A garden, named the “Garden of Eden,” is grown and cared for by the individuals in our Adult Services program.

This year’s garden features 12 garden beds and over a dozen different plants, but it has humble beginnings. When Jasbir Kaur, Teaching Chef, joined Eden in 2014, the garden was just a small patch of plants and weeds. 

“I grew up on a farm. We were having a staff meeting at OTR when I first started, and they were coming up with ideas to keep the guys engaged while they were at the center between job placements,” said Jasbir. “I asked about starting a garden, and they showed me the small garden in the back. It was a pile of dirt in the shade.”

Jasbir had the skills and the determination to turn the small patch into a flourishing garden. She worked with Josh Catalfamo, Maintenance Supervisor, and the rest of the facilities team to build new garden beds and fencing. Eden parents helped purchase items for the garden and sought out donations from local gardening centers. Jasbir also took suggestions from staff and participants to ensure they were growing food that could be used to prepare lunches in the center. 

“We started with two beds, which quickly turned into four because we realized how much the guys were loving it,” said Jasbir. “We had tons of cucumbers, tomatoes, and so many vegetables. The guys would go out there and pick the tomatoes and just eat them.”

Participants come out to water the plants and eventually pick them when ready. Staff then use the vegetables, herbs, and fruits to cook lunch for the day center. This year’s garden features green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, herbs, zucchini, squash, cabbage, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, corn, and several other delicious vegetables. 

While Jasbir leads the garden each year, it is a team effort across the Adult Services program. “People like being out there,” said Jasbir. “It’s really therapeutic.”