Celebrating women’s work with plants: Elva Manquera-DeShields

When Elva Manquera-DeShields was growing up on a small farm in Riddle, a huge lilac bush grew by the corner of her house. In the spring, when the flowers were in bloom and the windows were open, Elva remembers, her whole house smelled of lilacs.

She did not know why the fragrance of the flowers was so satisfying, but the memory of those smells and the happy feelings they evoked stuck with her. Today, in her role as program manager of the gardens at Sanctuary One in the Applegate Valley, Elva provides multisensory experiences with plants for children, teens, and adults.

Sanctuary One at Double Oak Farm outside of Jacksonville is a refuge for all kinds of animals: dogs, cats, horses, goats, pigs, even alpacas. The mission of the nonprofit organization is to provide a place where “people, animals, and the earth work together for mutual healing.” As part of the goal to promote environmental stewardship, Sanctuary One has about 35,000 square feet of garden space.

Most of the produce grown in the garden is donated to ACCESS emergency food pantries. Produce for the farm animals is donated by local grocery stores, and the farm animals provide manure for the garden compost bins. 

“For a lot of people, being outside in a calm, beautiful place is very therapeutic,” Elva said. “Getting to work with their hands, being in that environment and knowing that what they’re doing is also benefiting someone else, gives people something to look forward to.”

Read the complete article at www.mailtribune.com.

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