University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener: Growing Hope in Small Places

A St. Lucie County Success Story

With the help of St. Lucie County Extension, residents of New Horizons got a special gardening space to call their own.

Helping plant the garden were Kate O’Neill, Extension program specialist, and Master Gardeners Dale Galiano, Jeanne Reid, and Adina Lehrman. O'Neill was inspired to create the New Horizons garden with Anita Neal, county Extension director for St. Lucie County. New Horizons is an adult mental health day-care facility in the Treasure Coast area.

As space was limited, they decided that gardening in small boxes would be ideal. Seeds were first planted in peat pots, including beans, radishes, lettuce, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, cabbage, herbs, and nasturtiums. 

Two weeks later, the Extension folks returned to plant the germinated seedlings in two wood-framed boxes built in a small, sunny, fenced-in area outside the facility. All work was done on-site, with supplies provided by New Horizons.

Residents were excited to see the seeds germinate and seedlings grow, and were happy to care for the plants with watering and tending. In fact, many were motivated by the experience to start their own vegetable gardens at home.

O’Neill was also moved by the experience. "I would say this was one of the most rewarding programs I have been involved with," she said. "I loved it. Hopefully, it will also encourage them to eat more veggies—the fruits of their labor."

New Horizons residents Laying down paper as a weed barrier
Laying out rows Seedlings

(Click on photos for larger image.)

Contact Information

Kate O’Neill
Program Specialist
St. Lucie County Extension
8400 Picos Road, Suite 101
Fort Pierce, FL 34945
Tel: (772) 462-1660
Fax (772) 462-1510


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