Ability Garden Struggles to Keep Doors Open

Nov 22, 2011

The Ability Garden in Wilmington is struggling to pay its bills.

WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that the nonprofit’s staff is hopeful that grant money will come in early next year, but funds have certainly dried up in this final stretch of 2011.

NOTE: The audio for Jemila Ericson's interview with Mary Ann Torres is available above. 

The Ability Garden is housed at the Arboretum in Wilmington and provides horticultural therapy to clients with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, mental health issues, among other ailments.

Volunteer Mary Ann Torres:

“We teach the clients how to propagate a plant, how to create a living thing. And most often, people get to take a plant home. Where they have been the recipients of care, they learn how to care for something else.”

Like many area nonprofits, the Ability Garden is vying for regional grants, which have been stretched thin in recent years.

Torres and others have sent plea letters to supporters and hosted large greenhouse sales to help sustain the organization during this holiday season.

New Hanover County houses the garden at its Cooperative Extension Arboretum.

“But our operating funds, we get nothing from the county or the state. We are dependent on donations, private donations, grants, and then, the sale of the plants that the individuals who come to garden generate.”

It costs $7,000 to operate the garden each month.