The Greengard Center for Autism will establish an urban community garden. It will function as our first vocational and social opportunity for the young adults with autism who participate in the Residential and Day Programs. The ecologically sustainable urban summer and winter garden, will be operated by the Greengard participants and staff; joined by community garden enthusiasts, university and community college interns; family members and friends. The GreenGarden Program will address the distressing lack of authentically meaningful employment and volunteer opportunities for individuals with autism in New Hampshire.
GreenGarden will be an innovative way for young adults with significant challenges to make a meaningful community contribution, and for the community to be involved in the lives of its citizens with autism. GreenGarden has several unique benefits for a program for adults with autism including:
- To provide a vocational opportunity for each participant regardless of ability, that will build self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment and independence.
- To develop invaluable vocational, social and functional skills by learning to cultivate, plant, care for and ready the garden’s produce to sell at area farmer’s markets, local restaurants and businesses.
- To improve the participants’ health through the nourishment of fruits and vegetables and through regular outdoor physical activity.
- To help to break down the social isolation, marginalization and stigma that is a major challenge for adults with autism by creating natural social opportunities.
- To help the adults with autism to fully integrate into a small city by participating in community valued social roles -- the production and marketing of locally grown produce is considered a highly valued, contemporary endeavor in urban communities, including Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
- To provide a natural way to educate the public that people with autism can make an ecological contribution to their community.
The GreenGarden Project will utilize the methods of Applied Behavior Analysis and Positive Behavior Support to teach vocational and social skills, and to reduce behavioral and sensory problems. This program also will incorporate Horticultural Therapy and Occupational Therapy.