The mission of Gro is to revitalize the city of Huntington by providing under-served populations the opportunity to connect with the earth and develop job skills.
Gro, a nonprofit urban farm, combats the opioid epidemic in West Virginia by empowering individuals in addiction recovery to heal through nature-assisted coping, job, and life skills development, and re-enter the world with the support of their community. We offer weekly yoga, meditation, and other community classes, along with open farm days, in which clients can connect to a supportive community of individuals dedicated to healing their bodies and minds.
Coping Skills Development
Nature-assisted healing through gardening, emote yoga, meditation, and other healthy activities. Programming centered on building emotional intelligence.
Learning how to grow your own food, care and responsibility for a garden, nutrition, and community service.
Social Capital Development
Connection to local business owners and broader community through retail and outreach activities.
Human Capital Development
Bi-weekly job skills classes, hands-on experience in volunteer management, administration, interfacing with customers, and merchandising. Leadership training through client-lead community farm days.
Gro was inspired by the documentary Urban Roots, about urban farms in blighted areas of Detroit. Showcased in this documentary was a small, nonprofit farm, where individuals working off community service sentences or addicts in recovery could work the land, learn valuable job skills at the farmer’s market, and find a community. Men talked about coming back to volunteer at the farm long after they’d exceeded their community service requirements, and years into recovery. They’d found an outlet, a purpose, and a safe environment in which they were safe to heal.
There are a number of diverse drug prevention and addiction recovery organizations in the region, but none that focus specifically on nature-assisted healing in conjunction with life and job skills training. Clients will learn job skills by creating marketable products with our harvest, like salsas, teas, personal care products, and cooking spices. They will distribute these products to local farmers markets and restaurants, gaining experience in marketing, merchandising, customer service, and sales. This work will be paired with networking events, resume workshops, job shadowing, and administrative work. Every month, clients will lead community farm days, testing their leadership and management skills and providing a positive, professional face to recovery. The overall goal is to develop their skills and network with potential employers, since 85% of jobs are attained through networking (http://louadlergroup.com/4-insights-that-will-enhance-your-passive-candidate-recruiting-efforts/)
On the flipside of this practical education, clients will be exposed to a number of easily accessible healing modalities and life skills that will facilitate their continued recovery by building strength from the inside, out. Time spent on the farm will be meditative, inwardly-focused time, supported by our volunteers. Gro will also offer group discussions, community fitness classes, and one-on-one sponsor support. The first client set will be exposed to teachings varying from yoga and meditation to parenting classes and GED prep.
Alternative healing modalities are becoming increasingly embraced by modern medicine. For a comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of Nature Assisted Therapy, see “Nature-assisted therapy: Systematic review of controlled and observational studies” by Matilda Annerstedt and Peter Währborg of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden. Gro Huntington, in partnership with Marshall University’s Medical School, have the potential to be at the forefront of the nature-assisted therapies movement. We plan to contribute to the study of this form of therapy, by working with the Medical School to conduct MRI studies on clients. Our rigorous dedication to tracking progress could be an invaluable contribution to the science of addiction recovery and treatment.