Once arriving at the nursery, I quickly learned that the plants - although beautiful and impeccably cared for - weren't necessarily the main focus. You see, Desert Survivors has a double, even triple meaning.
As we strolled though the grounds, we were greeted with cheerful hello's and genuine smiles. There was a small group of mentally disabled adults gardening in the main area. Their supervisor was all over the place offering encouragement, challenging them to keep up the pace, and complimenting their hard work. The pleasant buzz this created was literally music to our ears. We would hear the supervisor offer guidance, followed by proud statements of accomplishments like "Look what I did!", or repeating the scientific name of the plant with great fervor. Mia even repeated a plant's name that I couldn't even begin to pronounce. We were smiling. I wanted to stay! However, we needed to get back and start planting so we received help with the picking of two succulents and some organic potting soil. As we headed home we were still smiling.
It was an enlightening and encouraging morning.
With more reading up on Desert Survivors, I learned that it actually started with its basis in the therapeutic. The nursery was founded by Dr. Joseph Patterson, who recognized the importance of meaningful activities and occupations that could provide dignity, accomplishment, and purpose to adults with disabilities. A plant nursery provided the perfect employment for the Dr.'s patients, allowing all involved to thrive (the adults and plants). I realized that the employees and plants weren't the only Desert Survivors. I left the nursery with a sense of pride. I was proud to be a local. I was proud that such a place exists and is able to survive. Mia and I were full of life that day.