By Bri McIntyre
Mizzou Alternative Breaks Volunteer at GreenHouse17

Do you know the feeling of grass under bare feet? Or how the sun perfectly wraps your whole body in warmth, and relaxes your muscles after a long day?

Those feelings of comfort and relaxation are in abundance at GreenHouse17. This non-profit organization exudes light and friendship throughout its 40 acres. These 40 acres include a home enveloped in love, vegetable and flower gardens created out of hard work and gentleness and a group of people dedicated to creating an atmosphere of comfort and healing. The initiative and ownership the survivors take to care for their space and the land is inspiring and truly visible in the smiles that fill the halls of the house.

GreenHouse17 is unique in the way it encourages survivors of domestic violence to heal, and I don’t think any of us were ready for this powerful experience. Preparing for this trip included discussions about domestic violence, the power and control wheel, and triggering words and experiences, but it’s hard to fully prepare for this type of service.

We’ve spent each day building High Tunnels, weeding, planting, or playing with the kids at the co-op. We’ve worked hard and have been encouraged to try new things (like using power tools!) and have felt comfortable diving right in. The atmosphere that blankets this house and this land is unmatched, and I think it’s safe to say that none of us could have asked for a better experience.

I’ll start by saying that I am not a survivor of domestic violence. I cannot possibly imagine the horrors that these survivors have been through, however I’m overwhelmed by the pure healing that has taken place within my own heart and by the instantaneous welcoming that I’ve felt since our first day at GreenHouse17.

I’ve spent most of my time on the farm building High Tunnels. Before this trip, I had no idea what a High Tunnel was. I was ignorant to most aspects of farming (and probably still am), but it’s been so easy for me dive in and try things I never would have otherwise come in contact with. I took time to sit in the sun next to the High Tunnel that we were in the process of completing and reflect on everything we’ve accomplished. I could feel the cool grass under my body and the warm sun on my face and felt the purest sense of joy throughout my body. Building something from the ground-up that will sustain this farm and create life is an incredible feeling.

I’m so thankful that I was given the opportunity to work with the devoted people at GreenHouse17 and with my Alternative Break group. It’s been one of the most moving experiences that I’ve had at Mizzou, and one I wouldn’t trade.