Here at the Horticulture Unit in Community 43, you’ll see the effects of urban gardening on a 5,000 square foot plot where you can bring your learning home. Along with gardening, Horticulture can also teach the values of working together towards a common goal. The level of effort we put into our programs to have our plants flourish is second to none, and that effort lets us harvest all kinds of plants from our daily gardening!
In the Horticulture Unit we work with a wide variety of plants including fruit trees, indoor plants and seasonal annual plantings. The Community 43 gardens are also a beauty to behold, providing a mental health boost that can help calm the mind and provide a healthy, productive purpose that every member can contribute to. With our passion in the field of Horticulture we are changing the landscape of mental health services in Phoenix.
In our first year we have added a variety of trees around the property including seven types of citrus trees, apricot, peach, plum, and moringa. Mature trees have many benefits such as providing shade to help combat the “heat island” effect, and for most trees at Community 43, they also provide a perennial food source. Moringa (M. oleifera) is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree native to India and well-suited for subtropical areas like the low desert of Phoenix. The leaves of the Moringa tree can be eaten either fresh in a salad, or dried in a powder form. The nutritional value of Moringa is incredible: 4 times the vitamin A of carrots; 7 times the vitamin C of oranges; 4 times the calcium of milk and very high content of protein, potassium, and iron.
Another popular group of plants we cultivate at Community 43 is a wide variety of indoor plants. Healthy houseplants help with oxygen levels inside the building and give off a calm aesthetic in all of our rooms here in the community. Every room in our building has at least one plant! One of our favorite examples is the Monstera deliciosa, or commonly known as the “Swiss cheese plant.” Native to the tropical forests of Mexico, it is grown mostly as an indoor plant in the United States and has large beautiful leaves that like to climb other trees in the wild. Although it does produce an edible fruit, hence the latin name “deliciosa”, it rarely flowers when grown indoors.
The third area of Horticulture that you will find at Community 43 is our seasonal annual plantings. Although the summer in Phoenix is a dormant time for many plants, we are busy year-round preparing for the next growing season. We maintain a seed library of more than 75 different plants and adding more all the time. In the Horticulture program we portray the healthy lifestyle that Horticulture promotes by not just providing food such as tomatoes, but also by displaying the mental wellness and healthiness that can assist anyone involved. Under our grow lights and seedling station we are able to get an early jump start and watch those seeds germinate on their way to become seedlings that will provide fruits and vegetables for our meal program. At Community 43, there is always something growing!