Preserving Our Heritage and Growing a Brighter Future
Celestial Therapeutic and Ornamental Gardens, Inc,
DBA: Celestial Farms
A Not-For-Profit Organization
…to assist people of all abilities to enjoy the therapeutic benefits caring for a garden can provide
Celestial Farms began in the spring of 2000. The original goal was a simple one: "to assist people of all abilities to enjoy the therapeutic benefits caring for a garden can provide". Caring for a garden teaches responsibility and patience. It also can help improve fine motor skills and have a calming effect. These are the things we want to share. In our early years, this was accomplished through providing assistive gardening tools, installing raised garden beds, and instructing clients how to garden in a way that is beneficial to them. Special gardens were also installed, like the one at Rutledge Pearson Elementary School, which includes “peace” tiles made by the children on benches that surround the garden area.
We always dreamed of having a large garden where people could come and share experiences. Over time, however, we felt a greater calling and in 2008 we expanded the organization to include all aspects of farming. This includes caring for animals and utilizing the products from the garden to become self-sufficient.
We hope to achieve our goal, to “Grow a Brighter Future” by helping to raise healthy and happy children in our preschool and summer camp programs, educating the public on how to grow their own food and providing a garden space for them to practice those skills, and utilizing sustainable practices to nurture the plants and animals that share our lives. Through these practices, we nourish bodies, minds, and environment.
Of course we still want to continue the original mission statement by sharing the knowledge and skills of caring for a garden to receive the therapeutic benefits; however, the expansion of our goal gives us a greater opportunity to assist people in more ways. Here are a few examples:
The new farm has multiple gardens that are growing and changing with the needs of the farm and the people that we help. This includes a sensory garden with plants to touch, taste, and smell; a community garden where volunteers and families in need work together to bring healthy food to the families’ tables; a whimsical garden, populated with over-sized flowers made from teacups and saucers and friendly garden toads and gnomes, where the children scatter seeds.
The farm also has lots of animals, of course. Caring for animals has many well-known therapeutic benefits, and we do what we can to provide the opportunity to reap those benefits to people of all ages and abilities. If some of those are unable to come to the farm, we even bring the animals out for a visit. The children in our day care and camps enjoy these benefits more than most, as they help care for the animals and enjoy the companionship on a daily basis.
At our monthly meeting of the Self-Reliant Club, we feel blessed to be able to offer classes in things like cheese making, soap making, canning, disaster preparedness, and other life and home skills. Each week we have at least one yoga class and will be adding more yoga nights to assist people in different groups (parent and child, advanced, elderly/need assistance). Once a month we host a free parenting workshop, in partnership with the Early Learning Coalition of Duval. We also offer classes in essential oils and aromatherapy on a monthly basis. Our Home School days are an opportunity for home school families to come enjoy the farm and take a class; each month throughout the school year has a different theme. At least twice a year we host a craft fair and invite many of our volunteers and the families who come to our classes - and other artisans from all over town - to set up a booth to sell their wares. They sell produce, bath products, hand-crafted wood furniture, honey, hand-knit items, original paintings, recycled and upcycled items, jams and preserves, and so many more hand-made items. This provides an opportunity for all to share their skills and take pride in what they have learned to do for themselves.
There are many ways you can help out and there are just as many ways you can enjoy the benefits the farm has to offer. Look around the site and see how we can help each other to Preserve Our Heritage and Grow a Brighter Future!