Thank you for stopping by... I am the founder of Healing By Growing Farms. A social impact enterprise naturopathic horticulture holistic healing farm whose approach is one that connects trauma survivors to themselves and the soil by growing. After suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) almost 2 years ago I decided to follow my great grandparents, grandparents and parents farming footsteps and leave my global executive career with FEMA and the National American Red Cross Disasters Response and Relief Unit. My work included working with farmers impacted by the disasters which opened the window for me to see the needs and inequalities.
I am a Taina Indigenous, Latinx disabled female who has embarked in full time farming as I continue to recover and empower as well as help Latinx, disabled, veteran, aging and new beginner farmers. It was farming and the animals that saved my very own life after surviving the injury suffered during a natural disaster response. Now I want to be able to educate, advocate, coach, create awareness, and help create a space for historically marginalized farmers. I particularly crave to help those struggling with trauma how to navigate their own health issues, suicidal ideation while cultivating, growing, healing, caring and expanding green spaces using livestock and native pollinator bees, to improve the soil, and the environment in the Northeast and beyond. Everyone should be able to farm and grow food from urban settings to larger spaces. I strongly believe farming can change and even save people’s lives. To me Gardening is a lot cheaper than therapy and you can get many potatoes and tomatoes in the process.
A large part of my personal mission is to raise Traumatic, Brain Injury (TBI) awareness to include Farmers and Ranchers; their families, workers, communities and caregivers. Research establishes a strong link and connection between TBI’s, mental health, stress, wellbeing and suicide amongst farmers. I have also identified a lack of first aid and TBI trainings, preparedness and awareness particularly in rural areas or amongst new beginning Spanish speaking immigrant and migrant farmers. I will continue my efforts to gather much-needed research and build awareness in the farm services community and beyond while training others to do the same across the USA utilizing Healing By Growing Farms as a template demonstration healing farm/green space model.
Many individuals don’t have the space to retreat to or funds to find the quiet spaces needed to silent their minds, souls and bodies to rest and get in tune with their inner selves; all which is a major component in the healing process. Farming is often seeing as an income earning enterprise, a place to cultivate for others, and perform extraneous labor. Frequently the beauty, joy and healing that comes from green spaces and farming is shadowed by the long days/hours of work and missed. I want to change that perspective for more people to learn, begin, welcome and embrace the other amazing benefits of farming.
We are doing this via experiential holistic healing activities where clients and new aspiring beginner farmers learn to garden, compost, care for animals, harvest eggs, raise pollinator native bees, plant crops, flowers, trees, and cultivate ethnic diverse medicinal herbs, specialty crops and food reconnecting each to their own heritage, ancestry and culture learning sustainable ways for self-sufficiency, self-reliance, environmental conservation, sustainability, inclusion, by donating to communities in need, and shrinking food deserts by giving back to the most vulnerable.
My vision is to continue farming while educating, empowering and helping individuals to discover farming as a healing alternative, and engage in regenitive sustainable farming practices with the hopes of creating a positive environmental impact and more healing green spaces. I am currently doing this in a very small urban plot of land until I am able to partner with an aging farmer, disabled farmer, a family with spare unwanted land or an individual with a shared vision willing to partner with me on a bigger piece of land. My ultimate dream and prayer is that someone will donate to Healing By Growing Farms (a Therapeutic Respite Farm) their land to help trauma survivors recover while growing and farming saving themselves, their land and the environment.
If you have extra land or unwanted land or need someone to help you with your own land, please consider donating it for a social cause where we will help others by teaching them how to become farmers. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I do believe in miracles. Blessings and thanks in advance for having read my long message!
Dr. Ivette Ruiz