By Kathleen Devaney
A growing community effort has helped to cultivate gardens in front of Janus Developmental Services in Noblesville.
Janus Developmental Services helps individuals with disabilities develop their place in the community. The gardens provide learning opportunities for the members of the Janus community.
Donations from Key Bank, Home Depot, Duke Energy and many other organizations have helped to fund the garden project, said Shannon Smith, director of adult services at Janus.
“The involvement from the community is tremendous,” Smith said. “The idea is to strengthen the natural supports for individuals that we serve through community partnerships.”
The completely donated project could not have been made possible without the efforts of the Hamilton County Master Gardeners, Smith said.
The Master Gardeners is a community service program using gardening and horticulture to provide education as its focus, said Bill Rice, the extension educator of Master Gardeners.
Before the partnership with Master Gardeners, the garden only featured a small vegetable garden, Smith said.
“From what the garden looks like today, it’s completely different,” Smith said.
On May 30, the Master Gardeners seeded a short grass prairie mix and planted some natives, Smith said. The Master Gardeners maintain the gardens on a weekly basis in the summer and come in to teach the individuals served by Janus how to plant and grow their own food, Smith said.
“By having this partnership with the Master Gardeners, we build friendships,” Smith said.
Considering the population that Janus serves, a grant from Grace Community Church will be used to start work on handicap accessible ramps in the gardens, Smith said.
“If there’s one thing that people can do to help this project, it would be to provide financial support for the ramps,” Smith said.
Both the community gardens and an indoor grow lab are just one aspect of the Doorways Program, a program that “emphasizes personal choice, individual talents, and diverse opportunities,” according to the program pamphlet.
Other parts of the program include American Sign Language activities, nature based activities, fitness and nutrition classes, a community service club and cooking classes.
“These folks get to choose how to spend their day,” Smith said. “The gardens provide them a learning opportunity in an area that is important to them.”
The Janus community gardens include butterfly and hummingbird gardens, sensory gardens, a fish pond and a gazebo, along with an abundance of native species plants.
“We were looking primarily for native species for our garden, which is good for wildlife and much easier to maintain,” Smith said.
A part of the sensory bed garden includes animal-name themed plants, which are also endangered species. Royal Catchfly, Spiderwort, Foxglove, and Lambs Ears are just some of animal-name themed plants.
“This whole project has been a true community effort,” Smith said. “We’re not done, but we have a lot accomplished.”