Next to rows of veggies and ripening strawberries at the Truman Community Garden is a new sensory garden, where nurture complements nature.
With guidance from special education teacher Jennifer Babcock, the sensory garden was designed to be both therapeutic and educational. Babcock works with students who have severe autism and developmental disabilities. These students have planted much of the garden through tasks that provide a sense of structure.
In fact, the sensory garden is viewed as a stress-free zone. Kids and adults alike can walk the tranquil trails to decompress. They can explore hands-on activities with the therapy swing, sensory sandbox, a "quiet tent" and a sheeting water stimulus fountain.
"If you have a brain," said Carol Stanley, member of the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation, "that garden is going to work for you."
On June 8, the Truman Community and Sensory Therapy Garden was officially dedicated. Located on the campus of Truman High School, 31455 28th Ave. S., the garden first broke ground in September 2010. In that time, the garden has generated more than 10,000 pounds of organic produce for hungry seniors and local food pantries.
The garden is maintained by the non-profit gardens foundation. At the Truman dedication ceremony, Franciscan Health System presented the foundation with a check for $10,000. The money will help further the foundation's mission for spreading health and wellness in Federal Way.
"Our goal is to make Federal Way a city of beautiful, productive gardens," said Cynthia Kannenberg, a foundation board member and manager of the Women's Health and Breast Center at St. Francis Hospital.
Mike Stanley, the foundation's executive director, said the donation will help maintain other gardens in the city's network, including gardens at several elementary schools. He reflected on the journey from start to finish with the Truman garden, which cost about $60,000 total.
"It took a lot to build it," he said, "but it's a beautiful garden."
Fundraiser on Aug. 1
The Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation will host a fundraising dinner Aug. 1, featuring wine paired with food that was grown in the Truman garden. To learn more, visit federalwaycommunitygardens.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.