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Maggie Matoba

On a hot August afternoon, master gardener Maggie Matoba shares a patch of shade with Roberta Phillips, Helen Burns, and Evelyn Higgins, Willamette Oaks Retirement Center residents who raise veggies and flowers in the therapeutic garden Matoba maintains as part of her Healing Harvest program. "Maggie came last spring -- she's been such a blessing," says Higgins. "She put in new soil and a watering system." Matoba witnessed the healing potential of gardening when her father came to stay following a stroke. "Gardening added 15 years to his life," she says. "He enjoyed it so much, his whole aura changed." Matoba took the master gardener course in 2000 and currently commutes to Portland to study horticultural therapy -- she'll be certified in October. She started her first therapeutic garden, for girls at Looking Glass treatment center, in May of 2002. "It's a population I wanted to work with -- at-risk youth," she says. "They learn about soil, biology, ecology. At the same time we address behavioral issues." Healing Harvest, newly granted non-profit status, also includes gardens at Sheldon Oaks, Womenspace, and River Kourt Apartments.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 18 September 2003

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