Disabled adults garden and build bonds at Scully Learning Center Foundation

Learning the art of gardening vegetables and flowers helps developmentally disabled adults in the community learn new skills and how to work hand-in-hand with others.

According to Paula Scully, founder of Ariz.,-based Scully Learning Center Foundation, developmentally disabled adults participate in the 501©(3)’s life experience and enrichment activities throughout the year. Along with gardening, they explore the arts, humanities and enjoy social experiences throughout the community while making friends and having fun.

“Our garden is a favorite of many of the participants, ” says Scully. “We started the garden more in 2010. They currently are growing fresh vegetables including cauliflower and zucchini. And, we plant beautiful marigolds for color and joy.” Our Scully friends and their caretakers love digging into the dirt, placing the young plants in their new homes and watching them grow and prosper over time.”

Scully says she took the University of Tucson’s master gardening course and received help from Jeff Franklin, a local landscape architect who helped in laying out the raised beds and watering system. Dave Owens, the garden guy from KTVK TV, did several segments about Scully Foundation and the unique garden and donated materials when the garden was first planted including his fertilizer and pest controls.

“We have learned a lot about great gardening over the years,” says Scully. “For example, we don’t plant spearmint as it takes over everything…we leave areas to rest…we are careful when removing plants provided by the nursery to protect their roots…we must keep our gates closed when we aren’t working in the garden…and, every spring and fall, we work new compost and sterilized steer manure into the soil for the best quality possible. Our garden is prolific. We give a lot to the Foothills Food Bank.”

Scully says foundation participants enjoy planting squash, beans, carrots, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes in the spring while in fall, they plant myriad greens (all kinds of lettuce, kale, spinach, rhubarb, collard greens, carrots and radishes).

“We have grapevines, artichoke plants, a lemon tree, a fig tree, bay trees and rose bushes that grow year-round, ”adds Scully, “We also grow many kinds of herbs, basil, rosemary, sage, lemon grass, thyme, cilantro and parsley. We like to plant onions, marigolds and other plants to help keep bugs away. One of our participants, Danny, has never missed a garden day.”

Lush desert trees and plants surround the beautiful 225-square-yard garden, which is adjacent to a small pond graced by swimming ducks, lively chickens and two curious goats, which our participants feed from time to time. In late summer, the chickens get to graze in the garden during the day to eat bugs and leftover vegetables.

In addition, Scully participants frequently enjoy a meal together after gardening to build bonds, laugh, talk and to engage with Scully’s numerous volunteers.

The foundation now is fundraising to construct a new type of group home that will serve as a national model for adults with physical and developmental disabilities as they transition from their lifelong family homes into a nurturing residential assisted living setting.

Life experiences help these special people navigate their daily lives and their futures.

Scully Learning Center Foundation is an established non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which has provided enrichment activities for developmentally disabled adults since 2010. Located in Cave Creek and serving Carefree, North Scottsdale and surrounding areas, Scully provides individuals with disabilities the opportunity to explore the world, find purpose and live meaningful lives. Scully Learning Center Foundation is located at 37436 N. Rancho Manana Blvd.

The organization can be reached at 480.772.0889 or scullylearningcenter.com.