A seed has been planted.

Anna’s House staff, clients and volunteers are marking the beginning of summer by building a community garden, right on the Bel Air property.

Anna’s House is known for a broad array of services including emergency shelter, transitional housing for families fleeing domestic violence, community supportive housing and rapid re-housing.

“One of the lessons I would love our families to take away from this is, the garden is a safe space where you can learn that mistakes do not define you but can be corrected and result in something beautiful and beneficial for everyone,” said Karyna Smith, director of Anna’s House. “All too often, our families make mistakes and are negatively impacted by that decision long-term. My belief is that level of vilification stops families from seeking other opportunities either because systems will not allow it, or because they no longer have the confidence to put themselves out there and try.”

A garden, then, allows beauty to grow from trial and error, rather than shame.

Making the garden grow

The new garden will grow in this spot on the Anna’s House property.

The Anna’s House garden is truly a group effort. The staff is very excited to take on this project. They have gathered and shared ideas on ways to make this garden a success. The four raised garden beds are the passion project of long time Anna’s House volunteer Dennis Chisholm.

The community has provided overwhelming support, financially and time-wise. Union United Methodist Church in Aberdeen is funding the project.

We Cancerve, a nonprofit organization that creates giving opportunities that can be supported by the community to bring happiness to homeless, sick and foster children, is helping get the project off the ground with planning, prep and planting. An Aberdeen veteran-owned business that turns food scraps into high-quality organic compost called Veterans Compost offered to discount the soil and delivery.

This garden will be filled with plenty of vegetable plants that can be planted and grow seasonally. The

Chisholm is using this lumber to build the garden beds.

Anne’s House team hopes to plant accordingly – lettuce and peas in the spring, tomatoes, squash and the likes in the summer, and broccoli, kale, etc. in the fall.

“We don’t often get donations of fresh vegetables and fruits, so this will create new access to fresh food that we haven’t had in a long time,” said Smith. “We hope to have this garden in, prepped and ready for the team to plant by August, if COVID-19 allows us to gather.”

As the garden grows— and COVID-19 hopefully wanes—more donations and help are welcome and will be needed for a variety of tasks including weeding, watering and maintaining the garden over time.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

Actress Audrey Hepburn is credited with the lovely thought that planting a garden signifies hope.

That hope – that tomorrow is a new day – is the message Smith hopes families will get from this garden. Hope that even though things are hard right now, there is always tomorrow. Just don’t give up.