Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gardening Offers Recovery

The following is an article written in the Cherokee Scout paper last week featuring the greenhouse at CLM as well as some of the volunteers & students. Rich was one of the students working that day so he got his picture taken as well as a small quote. Sorry I had to cut & paste this entire article...I can't figure out how to post a link to another website! :-)

Gardening Offers Recovery
Christian Love Ministries greenhouse helps addicts overcome their addictions


Tuesday, March 31, 2009 8:05 PM CDT

From the time a seedling sprouts into a leafy stalk, its life is fragile and dependent on a gardener to keep it safe and healthy.

Thousands of plants at Christian Love Ministries greenhouse are in the hands of those who understand the struggle of life better than most. The gardeners are recovering addicts.

The greenhouse, a ministry endeavor, grows natural vegetables, fruit and flowers to sell at reduced prices to the public. Volunteers make up most of the gardening staff, including students of the ministry. The students are in the church’s substance abuse rehabilitation program, learning a new way of life without the crutch of drugs and alcohol. Some people have been sober for years, while others only have been clean for weeks.

Geoff Grubb, greenhouse manager, oversees the project and relates to the students on a personal level. He was one of the first to join the rehab program 15 years ago.

“I was a cocaine addict when I moved here with my family from Florida,” he said. “We were homeless before Christian Love.”

Grubb explained his past as he worked with his son, Josh, and brother, Doug, both volunteers working in the greenhouse. He said the project is a family effort and run completely by volunteers from the community.

Emilie Jones designed the logo for The Greenhouse and often takes her two children, Liam, 2, and Gates, 3, to work in the dirt. They help transplant seeds into packs and keep mom busy during the mornings she helps at the garden.

“We saw a need and an opportunity to support the community with this,” she said. “This is also a safe environment for my babies, and they get hands-on work in the garden.”

Jones has met with several artists to come up with the logo and extended her search for volunteers to Facebook, an online networking site. She works, side by side, with those struggling with addiction and said the greenhouse provides a form of therapy for them.

“It’s rehabilitating for the students to sell food to support the ministry and in turn, themselves. It allows them to dedicate time to something that they can produce. It’s selfless,” she said.

Bob Maddox, another volunteer, works with the students everyday, teaching them gardening techniques. Richard Becker, a student who has been in the program for nine weeks, said he had little gardening experience before entering rehab but he’s open to the project.

“I want to learn everything I can,” he said.

Joe White, sober for more than two months, said he has been in rehab four times in the past. Moving from Chicago to Murphy less than a month ago, he’s pursuing his faith through the ministry.

“I’m finding the greenhouse to be fulfilling, relaxing,” he said. “The key is to use the Bible as a step-by-step instructional manual ... to have serenity.”

“We supply ourselves with this food. The more we grow for us, the less we have to ask for donations,” said Joey Aldridge, discussing the responsibility of residents. “Every little bit helps us.”

Cabbages, lettuce, cauliflower and heirloom tomatoes have been transplanted into packs, and are ready to be sold.

The greenhouse opened for business on March 15. Open-pollinated plants and flowers also will be available. By summer, the plot adjacent to the greenhouse should be flourishing with seasonal vegetables.

About 1,500 addicts have found a safe and healthy lifestyle through the Christian Love Ministries’ program.

The greenhouse brings a new outlook on life to those in recovery, turning simple gardening skills into lessons of value.

Grubb and his friends are working towards providing cheap, natural food for the community. Volunteers always are welcome to partake in the on-going project and donations are appreciated. To find out how to become involved with the greenhouse, call Jones at 494-2449.

Photos by SCOTT WALLACE/Cherokee Scout

Liam Jones, 2, and his 3-year-old sister, Gates, help their mother, Emilie, plant seedlings at Christian Love Ministries geenhouse on River Road in Peachtree on Feb. 6.

Josh Grubb; his brother, Geoff Grubb; and Jeff’s son, Doug Grubb, (from left) work side by side in the Christian Love Ministries greenhouse. All three have availed themselves of Christian Love’s programs and now volunteer their time.

Joey Aldridge and Richard Becker (from left), both students at Christian Love Ministries, work and learn in the organization’s greenhouse. The skills and experience they are gaining will help secure employment when they have finished their studies at Christian Love.


  1. When you click on Links to this post, it just brings you to post a comment. Looks like you will need to copy/paste in order for us to read (unless I'm doing something wrong)

  2. I must have written my comment about not being able to get to the aricle as you were posting it. Very nice...nice illustration of how a sprout depends on it's gardener as we in our fragile lives depend on our gardener, God.