Positive Mental Health

Positive Mental Health | AspenPointe is working to purchase a Geodesic Dome to extend our Community Garden's growing season.

Researchers believe that a bacteria in dirt, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain. As a neurotransmitter, serotonin relays messages from one area of the brain to another, influencing most brain cells either directly or indirectly. Among other affects, it’s believed serotonin levels can influence our moods.

“Gardens have been proven to be beneficial in treating depression and creating a positive mood,” said Adah Rodriguez, AspenPointe’s Director of education and youth services, who oversees the all-ages program.

Rodriguez says that AspenPointe clients who get their hands dirty in the garden are “learning job skills and social skills, working on a team, learning how to communicate, following direction.”

“We felt we needed to focus on the jobs skills piece and make it a unique model and not just focus on the mental health aspect,” Rodriguez continued. “Really, the model is engaging our clients in the community, teaching nutrition, job skills and mental health recovery.”

The garden project also feeds into another job skills program, producing more than 300 pounds of greens, squash, tomatoes and other vegetables used in the AspenPointe Cafe food service training program.

Colorado winters generally put a stop to most gardening efforts, but installing a glass geodesic dome over the garden site would enable the program to continue to grow produce and provide gardening opportunities for both clients and community members for positive mental health.

“Ultimately I would like to add a 26-foot dome this year and another of the same size or bigger the following year,” Rodriguez said. “We’re very excited about it. It would be wonderful for the community and our clients to be able to offer this opportunity year round.”

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