Post by Staff at Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program

This quotation has been making the rounds on social media lately: “Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do…”  It’s from Ron Finley, the co-founder of an organization that plants gardens in the streets of South Los Angeles. This idea of gardening being both therapeutic and defiant really connects to the work we’re doing on our farm at the shelter.

At the core of domestic violence is an abuser exerting power and control over a victim. The abuse may be physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual. We often reference a model called the Power and Control Wheel to explain the dynamics of intimate partner abuse:


Power and Control Wheel, developed by the Domestic Violence Intervention Programs (home of the Deluth model). Hat tip to for the link to the image.

Here in Kentucky, one in three women will be the victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. They are being isolated, minimized, and intimated by someone loved and trusted. In many cases, the abuse has escalated to physical and sexual violence. Maybe they have attempted to flee the abuse once, twice, or many times in the past, but the violence only became more dangerous when they tried. Participants in our farm program know these real threats of abuse. They are, indeed, survivors.

When we consider the experiences of intimate partner abuse survivors, the beauty and importance of our farm program becomes apparent. Where there was once isolation, now there’s land to explore. Where there was once minimization, now there’s possibility to sow. Where there was once intimidation, now there’s growth and change to experience. Our Field Notes blog series shares some of the therapeutic effects of gardening from the point of view of our farm program participants. We honor these experiences and celebrate each survivor’s defiance of violence by working on the farm.

Plus, we all get strawberries! (and kale, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beans, squash, blackberries, squash…)