Giving the Kids the Room to Grow

Giving the Kids the Room to Grow

by Heath Kull

Teaching the “Fruits of Your Labor”

Last spring, we set about teaching the kids some life skills along with a focus on seeing the “fruits of your labor”…literally.
Judey Truitt, one of our houseparents, began resurrecting our garden and revitalizing a greenhouse here on the ranch. Each day as the kids set out for VoTech (our work program that pays the kids for jobs on campus) Judey took two or three of them to do some gardening. The correlation between garden work and the internal work (that the kids must do while living at The Ranches) is undeniable.

  1. Clear the dirt – Removing rocks, debris, and unhealthy plant life from the garden is a lot like clearing out all of the negative thought and patterns in the kids’ lives.
    “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil…”
  2. Fertilize – After we clear the soil of unwanted growth, the young garden plants will need a chance to absorb necessary nutrients. Most of the time, plants need a bit of fertilizer in order to grow tall and build strong stems that can eventually bear the weight of future produce. In very much the same way that these verdant garden beings need nutrients, so too, do all of our kids. We have to start teaching these kids that they not only have value, but that they are also important; we teach them their value and importance by fertilizing their minds and souls.
    “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit…”
  3. Tend to the garden – After the ground was cleared and fertilized, and the seeds were planted, the kids tended the garden through the summer. In the same fashion, we have to stay vigilant in reminding the kids of their worth and that we care about them or they too will wilt.
    “…and you shall be like a watered garden”
  4. Harvest – As summer drew to a close, kids who’d been a part of the process were literally able to see the “fruits of their labor” – zucchini, squash, pumpkins, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes, and much more, were all grown right here at the ranch. For us, the fruits of the kids’ emotional labor is a special kind of harvest; of healing and perceiving themselves differently; and of being productive members of society.
    “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”

Photos by Lani Kull

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