The Little Red Hen
Empowering Children and Adults
with Developmental Disabilities
By Blake Ellis
NOTE from Lotus Guide: Like most business owners we often wonder why we do what we do. We obviously have financial goals so we can meet our responsibilities in the world around us; however, as we read this article we realized the true significance of what we do. We love helping people who help people and we are so appreciative of all of our advertisers and readers who make it possible to help promote organizations such as The Little Red Hen and the many other people and organizations who are out there making this world a little better and easing the suffering of those in our community. Rahasya & Dhara
If you live in Chico, Little Red Hen is probably a name you have heard before. Perhaps you’ve landscaped your yard with drought-tolerant plants bought at the nursery. Maybe you ordered a lovely bouquet from the Floral & More on Mother’s Day to show your mom just how special she is. You might have even decorated your home with a unique find from the Vintage Hen, or found the perfect gift for that certain someone at the Gift Shop or Kids & Kitchen. However, what you may not have heard of is Little Red Hen’s best-kept “secret,” the Park and Garden.
Little Red Hen has been empowering children and adults with developmental disabilities for more than a decade by offering fair and paid employment, socialization, and educational opportunities. This nonprofit organization is founded on the belief that everyone is capable of growth and deserves the opportunity to do so. Little Red Hen gives individuals, in a marginalized and underserved community, the opportunity to grow. However, at the Park and Garden, career and social skills and self-esteem aren’t the only things growing …
At Park and Garden we have more than 15 raised beds, in order to accommodate people of all abilities, where we sustainably and organically grow seasonal fruits and vegetables. We also have a small orchard where we grow peaches, apples, figs, jujubes, cherries, and will soon add citrus trees. The staff members at Park and Garden are able to learn a multitude of organic and sustainable practices, such as integrated pest management, companion and succession planting, composting techniques, and more. Working with your hands out in the garden is healing, and we view our work at Park and Garden as therapeutic plant and land stewardship. All of our organic produce is given away to the staff at no cost to them, and it is delivered weekly to a different Little Red Hen location.
Adults and children with developmental disabilities are disproportionately affected by preventable chronic diseases—such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. One of our main areas of focus at the Park and Garden is education. We offer nutrition lessons one to two times a month and hand out healthy and affordable recipes with every produce delivery. In our nutrition lessons we cover a range of topics from “eating healthy on a budget” to “how to properly read a nutrition label.” Together we aim to empower our staff with the knowledge and the ability to make healthier choices.
The future of the Park and Garden is indeed in the hands of our future—our children. The Children’s Garden will be open to the public and will enthusiastically welcome children from all backgrounds. We will offer education on growing food and nutrition through hands-on, experiential learning in the garden and through cooking classes. We understand the importance of connecting children to the earth and to their food and providing them with an interactive, exciting environment in which to learn and grow. The health and education of our children are of utmost importance and one thing is clear—if a child grows a tomato, a child will eat a tomato.
The plans are big for Little Red Hen’s Park and Garden and we don’t want them to be a secret any longer. We are taking an intersectional approach to improve the lives of our staff, our children, our community, and our environment. Come to Park and Garden and see for yourself. Come grow with us!
For more information about Little Red Hen please visit www.LittleRedHen.org or drop in at:
- Little Red Hen Gift Shop, 897 E. 20th St #B
- Little Red Hen Vintage Hen, 973 East Ave.
- Little Red Hen Therapeutic Plant Nursery, 189 E. 8th St.