Ironwood Maine Web Update

“Gardening is not a discipline that can be learned once for all, but keeps presenting problems that must be directly dealt with.”

Wendell Berry

This week at Ironwood, both Frye and Farmhouse residents are working hard to clean up the garden, to prepare it for the new seedlings to grow. In doing this, we are reflecting upon how we can “clean up” what has happened in the past, and how we can plant our seeds of new beginnings. It may be hard work and a lot of effort, but we will all soon be rewarded with the fruits of our labor.


In Experiential group, Farmhouse residents worked on communication skills to find a common solution. We found that, although we may struggle to find solutions, we can still communicate and try to work together. The group is now focusing on being solution based, and functioning together as a team.


As residents plant the seeds to their own bright futures, they are also working hard in the garden to prepare it for this year’s crop. We have planted a wide variety of seeds that are growing more every day. Soon, they will be ready to plant and root themselves into the ground. I sat down with Ronanne, our garden staff, to discuss her plans for this year’s garden:


Q: So Ron, what are you most looking forward to in the garden this year?


A: Having a beautiful, productive, and peaceful garden where I can watch all of the different varieties of birds that migrate through it. I really find pride in being able to teach residents how to plant, care for, harvest, and prepare the fresh food we grow ourselves, from the ground to the table. It is important for everyone to know where their food comes from, and how delicious real fresh food tastes.


Q: Do you think that gardening parallels the journey that each resident goes through at Ironwood? If so, how?


A: Yes, the garden provides residents with many opportunities. They can work solo and reflect, they can work as a group to enjoy the camaraderie and teamwork. We do many team building exercises in the garden without even knowing it. Today we worked together to save the leeks.


Q: What are some of the plants that we will be growing this year?


A: Veggies; so many! Also the culinary herbs, such as thyme, sage, parsley, oregano, mint and more. Let’s not forget the fruits that include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes and peaches.


Q: What are some of your favorite fruits and vegetables to grow/raise?


A: I love broccoli. I continued to produce harvestable broccoli all summer long as well as swiss chard. I also enjoy tomatoes.


As you can see, every day we are presented with new challenges to face. As we overcome our struggles, we are digging deep in order to plant the seeds of tomorrow. With hard work and determination, these seeds will grow, and we will reap the bountiful harvest of the future.


*This weekend’s update was written by an upper level resident at the Farmhouse, who I saw just yesterday, cantering down Captain Cushman Road with a big smile on her face! 2019 was our most successful gardening year of all time and I am pleased to see that our residents are recognizing and appreciating the effort that “Ron” puts in to our horticulture projects. Ron (or Ronanne) has been an Ironwood staff for almost 12 years and she has likely worked with most of the 700+ teens who have been enrolled at Ironwood, over the years. Ron is tough, she is consistent, she is fair…and she wants our Ironwood residents to head home with a deeper understanding of the value in working hard, understanding how we are connected to the natural world. Have a nice weekend everyone and HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

top