The VA Farms and Gardens program is helping Veteran patients at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital (Madison VA).

VA Farms is a pilot program started in 2018 and the Therapeutic Gardening program was developed in the fall of 2020.

Man works in VA Farms and Gardens program plot

Veteran Patrick Williams: “It’s therapeutic. It calms my mind down.”

It’s active year round, and during winter months the program offers many virtual or in-person gardening classes as well as planning for the following spring.

The hospital prides itself on the various means of care and support it offers Veterans, and VA Farms and Gardens uses gardening in a therapeutic way to help improve their quality of life.

Veterans welcome to take squash home

According to Occupational Therapist Ann Hanson, it’s about getting Veterans out and about.

“We have Veterans who come and help maintain it,” Hanson said. “We have some squash and tomatoes, peppers, a variety of stuff, and Veterans are welcome to take stuff home.”

The program has several raised garden beds located on the main campus in Madison. The program also encourages Veterans to utilize gardening as a relaxing and productive outlet to help them maintain a balanced and fulfilling life.

Veteran patient Patrick Williams learned about the program from Hanson and was really glad he got involved.

“It’s therapeutic,” he said. “It calms my mind down about certain things. If you want to come through, if you have PTSD, or bi-polar or schizophrenia, it should help”

If you have any questions about the VA Farms and Gardens Program or would like more information, please contact Whole Health at 608-256-1901 extension 12537.

By Paul Rickert is chief of public affairs at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital

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Published on Nov. 13, 2021

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