Celebrating National Gardening Day

Taking the Reins is most known for transforming Los Angeles girls’ lives through its extensive equestrian program; however, a somewhat hidden gem within this organization is Seed-to-Skillet, which teaches girls effective gardening and food preparation skills. Year-round girls are taught about seed selection, how to create floral arrangements, and how to prepare healthy meals.

According to multiple researchers, gardening has a positive impact on mental health. It has been proven to reduce stress, improve productivity, and enhance people’s outlook on life. There is a lively garden full of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and plants at Taking the Reins. Currently, there are more than 28 seeds either being prepared or planted on the property. Girls enjoy the psychological benefits of gardening, while also learning how to transform what they grow into healthy dishes and meals. ​​​​​

Finding healthy food is a struggle for many of the communities that our girls come from, so we do our part to bridge that gap. Max is one of Taking the Reins’ most involved gardening students. Max’s experience shows the emotional, physical, and social benefits garnered from the Seed-to-Skillet programming. On National Gardening Day, Taking the Reins is celebrating Max’s story.

In addition to the benefits of gardening, Max has found deep friendship and mentorship at Taking the Reins.

Scott, Alex, and Dragon bring me so much joy,” Max shared about their two mentors and best friend at Taking the Reins. Max appreciates Scott’s humor and Alex’s relatability. Max also shared that they talk to Dragon every day, and they both try their best to sign up for the same TTR sessions.

Max is grateful for the skills they’ve learned in the garden. From planting, weeding, and seeding, Max is always eager to participate in more programming. This 16-year-old says they are already confident in many simple recipes learned at TTR. Max has even taken these skills to the kitchen at home.

One of Taking the Reins’ main goals is to make sure the skills students learn on their property become transferrable. Hearing that Max is able to provide healthy meals at home because of Taking the Reins spoke directly to executive director Jane Haven’s heart.

“We want our girls to be healthy, strong, and confident,” Haven shared. “Max has seen some incredible transformations at Taking the Reins. Knowing our girls can make themselves healthy meals while they are with us, and while they are at home, tells me we are making a positive impact on their lives. Access to healthy food should not be dependent on where you live, but unfortunately in Los Angeles that is true. So, we do what we can to properly equip our girls.

Max also says that Taking the Reins has helped their leadership skills tremendously.  “I am more of a follower,” Max shared. “The more I am at TTR, the more I take on leadership roles. Even in school projects I try and step in as a leader.”

Max’s story of identity, mentorship, and friendship shows what an impact Taking the Reins has on girls’ lives. There is something for everyone in their variety of programming.

“Taking the Reins is a good place for your child to go,” Max said to parents. “It teaches girls skills that will stay with her and help her as she grows.”

National Gardening Day is a chance to celebrate growth and flourishment, not only for the plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, but also for the girls who come to Taking the Reins.