Rabiner Treatment Center students start a garden

Rabiner Treatment Center’s students are starting a garden.

The garden will feature both flowers and vegetables, said Daun Keefe, Rabiner clinical director.

“Part of it is teaching kids how to grow food and how to take care of plants. Part is to teach about heirloom plants, about seed saving,” she said. “There’s a seed exchange in Decorah, and our garden will be patterned after that garden.”

Ann Davidson, Rabiner director of marketing and development, said having a garden will augment the education received by the campus’s students.

Davidson hopes to expand the vocational choices available at Rabiner.

“I’ve written a couple of grants which I hope come to fruition, because if they do we’ll probably be building a greenhouse and possibly a machine shed to let the kids work on motors and cars, and that kind of stuff,” she said.

A key aspect of the garden will be the produce enjoyed by the students, Keefe said, which will include watermelon, potatoes and onions.

“The kids want to make salsa, so we’ll plant tomatoes and all the things that go in salsa,” she said. “Potatoes need to be planted Friday night because it’s Good Friday. That’s the day you plant potatoes. So we’ll get that done if the weather behaves itself.”

Each of the center’s students, Keefe said, will participate in the garden in some way.

“Some of them will be in the bakery processing some food and making some food for the rest of the people to taste and enjoy,” she said.

Work on the garden has already started, Keefe said.

“The Lions Club in Humboldt is building garden boxes for us,” she said. “The straw is in the garden, ready to put on the ground. Some of the plants have been started by one of our cottages. They’ve got some seedlings going. Some of the plants are just waiting to go in the ground when it warms up a little bit, maybe next week.”

Keefe has a particular vision for the yet-to-be-named garden.

“This garden is going to be so special that it will be a show garden when we’re done,” she said. “When it’s done it will be something beautiful that all of the kids will enjoy, and the staff. It will be a place where people can walk and enjoy the plants.”

Davidson said the project, if successful, could expand in the future.

“It’s a starting point. If they really like it, it could be bigger next year,” she said. “We’ll just have to see what happens.”