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N&N: Unity PSR Brings the Great Outdoors Inside

Unity PSRThis month, those at Monarch’s Unity Center Psychosocial Rehabilitation Center (PSR) in Winston-Salem have begun a new initiative to bring the great outdoors to their doorstep.

Zakiyyah Niang, program manager at Unity, started things off merely by accident when she brought in potted plants from her porch to the PSR, as well as an old fish aquarium.

When Elly Fornasier, a person supported, saw both items she knew just what to do.  Fornasier, a master gardener who has a degree in horticulture from North Carolina State University, immediately started watering and taking care of the plants, transplanting them to better pots and locations, and labelling them. She also found vases to put their root cuttings in so that more plants could be produced. On top of all of that work, she also started recruiting others at the PSR to be part of a garden club.

“We rehabilitated the house plants; we started lining the aquarium with moss, leaves, branches and rocks,” Fornasier said. She also noted that in the future they are hoping to introduce tree frogs into the terrarium.

Another project she is helping to lead is preparing for an outside garden.

“We’re planning to grow tomatoes and hoping to have raised beds,” Fornasier said. They are also discussing the possibility of growing watermelon, lettuce and peppers.

The “enthusiasm is spreading and I’m bringing people on to the gardening committee,” she said. “The best part about a garden is you can sit and watch it, and it’s better than watching TV. Nature is very healing. I believe the farther away we get from nature, the more problems people have.”

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