Garden Therapeutic for Nursing Home Residents

Neshoba County, Mississippi
Something beautiful is blooming at the Neshoba County Nursing Home. Stacy Cook, who is the coordinator for animal assistant therapy at the nursing home, regularly paints with the residents as a form of expressive art therapy. But a couple of years ago, they ran into a problem.

"We ran out of canvases in January," Stacy Cook recalls. "I had to have some kind of art they can do with their hands. So I came up with the idea we would plant seed, never dreaming we would have what you see behind you."

It started as a few tomatoes inside. After a few short months, the nursing home had created a beautiful garden for the residents to enjoy. Residents say they look forward to seeing it grow even more.

Cook's coworkers say they admire her dedication to the garden because she knows just how important it is to the nursing home's residents.

Every morning, I'd get up, look forward to coming to work," Austin Dempsey says. "Sometimes when I'd come, I can't find Stacy in her office. You know where to find her, out in the garden, pulling weeds, fertilizing, getting everything ready."

Cook says she's seen a tremendous impact in how the once small garden project brought the residents out of their shell.

"Everybody else can't get theirs to grow that big," resident Earsel Chisolm says. "They want to know what we put out there, and she says it's our touch with our loving hands and our care."

Residents take part in regular tomato sandwich socials and come out often just to admire the view.