Each student at BAC attends Horticultural class at least once a week where they develop their green thumbs under the skilled tutelage of a full-time horticulturist. During these classes, our students are exposed to the whole spectrum of horticulture from greenhouse management to landscape design, from vegetable and fruit production to propagation. Working with plants can be differentiated to all skills levels and to all types of disabilities. Plants are non-judgmental, non-threatening, and non-discriminating. Plants do not care about the limitations of your body or mind, if you are a victim of abuse, if you are rich or poor, or what your ethnicity is. Therefore, we believe that the gardens and greenhouses of BAC provide our students with an optimal environment to grow, learn, and interact.
The benefits our students gain from our horticulture program include exposure to healthy foods, moderate physical activity, positive social interactions, learning patience, development of fine motor skills through planting, weeding, and harvesting, and learning the value of hard work by enjoying the literal "fruits" of their labor at harvest time. These skills and lessons learned through the horticulture program extend far beyond our gardens and greenhouses providing our students with a solid foundation for their future.
Through our students' participation in the entire plant cycle, from planting, cultivating, and harvesting, they gain a sense of ownership, pride, and self-confidence that can be seen on a daily basis:
- After weeding a garden, a student with an emotional disorder steps back and said, “Wow! I did that! It’s beautiful!”
- Students use their "Bayes Bucks" (tokens earned for good behavior and hard work) to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits grown in the garden rather than purchasing less healthy snacks or toys.
- Students and staff watch caterpillars turn into butterflies. The students wanted the butterflies to crawl on their hands and arms while releasing them.
- Students want to share their plants and produce with their families and siblings when they come for visits or when the students go on home visits.
- The shout of delight and the look of awe on a student's face when she discovers a huge yellow squash growing behind dark green leaves during an afternoon harvesting class.
In a world that is becoming increasingly more digitalized, commercialized, instant, and sterile, we see a tremendous benefit in providing our students with the opportunity to experience the wonder and mystery of God's creation by putting a seed in the ground, watching it sprout and grow over time, and finally plucking the ripe fruit from the earth to enjoy it with others.
And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear"