Gardening therapy for immigrants

“Touching the vegetables makes me happy and changes my mood. It takes away my worry. We meet each other, we talk, it’s really nice". 

 This is just one moving account from the ten survivors involved in a new garden group at Center for Victims of Torture  (CVT). CVT piloted the garden group this year because we recognized a need for our clients to reestablish identity as farmers and foster a sense of community. Ten CVT clients came together weekly to plant, harvest and socialize while getting their hands dirty. This group was made possible by a generous donation of two raised beds and a year's worth of labor and planting from A Backyard Farm . 

The garden group was a huge success! Not only did participants leave with fresh produce but they built relationships with each other that persist today.

 However, maintaining the garden and facilitating the garden groups comes with a cost – a substantial one.

 Groups require a clinician and interpreter's time, along with transportation, to ensure our participants arrive and depart safely. CVT hopes to provide at least two groups targeting those who will benefit because of their agrarian background and those who are socially isolated. CVT also hopes to expand the garden per the request of our participants. And you can help. Donate now to contribute to the transformative healing power of gardening at CVT.

Are you wondering why it's so expensive to facilitate this type of group? Here's why:

it costs $800-1,000/month for one group of 10 participants, and the gardening season is 5 months long. Medical transportation is expensive because we work with reliable companies to ensure the safety of our clients. Due to language, physical, and logistical barriers, group participants find using public transportation difficult. Many live in the suburbs where there is a lack of transit options.

Cost of the interpreter: 
in order for our group to be inclusive we facilitate in English and another language (this past season we worked with an Oromo interpreter).  $296 is the approximate monthly cost of an interpreter. 

Additional costs:maintenance of the garden comes at a cost. The urban gardening group A Backyard Farm provided weekly maintenance and one hour of group facilitation free of charge last season. For a full season of their maintenance and guidance in an expanded garden it will cost CVT $6,870.
  • Ammanuel Selameab 
    • $500 
    • 26 mos
  • Beth Wickum 
    • $50 
    • 29 mos
  • Jill Eisenberg 
    • $100 
    • 32 mos
  • Gretchen W. 
    • $5 
    • 32 mos
  • Gretchen W. 
    • $18 
    • 32 mos
See all


Amanda McDonald 
St. Paul, MN
The Center for Victims of Torture 
Registered nonprofit
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