JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — The last few months have planted a seed of personal growth for David Gray. Farming is part of it.
"I didn't know nothing about no farming. It's all new to me," Gray said.
He is a resident at Renovatus.
"Our program is Renovatus. Renovatus is a Latin word. It means to restore," Pete Higgs said. "Restoring men from drug and alcohol addiction and helping them to understand who they are as believers in Christ."
Pete Higgs started Renovatus at this family farm in Jefferson City.
The farm has open fields and a greenhouse and a kind of hybrid called tunnels.
Farming is not only therapeutic but it also teaches recovering addicts how to work to prepare them for life after the program.
"If they are good men and are good citizens and they are out in their communities and they are helping other people then that's success to us," he said.
The guys live in a house on the farm with Pete and his wife, Beth. The residents take classes, learn life skills, and go through counseling.
Greg Lay is the Renovatus Program Director.
"We have a holistic approach where we try to help their spirit's own body and give them enough time in a protective environment to learn and apply it and then recover from all the damage that's been done," Lay said.
He draws on his personal experience.
"I see how bad things were for me and God turned it around and now I get to pass that on to others and that's the greatest satisfaction any man can have," Lay said.
Renovatus is funded, in part, by Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
"We grow the vegetables, we harvest the vegetables, we prepare the vegetables and then we bring the vegetables here under the pavilion," Higgs said.
Members pay a fee ahead of time to purchase the vegetables. But most of the financial support comes from churches and individual donors.
"Individuals that either themselves have been in recovery or they have loved ones that are in recovery so there's a strong connection there to helping people," Higgs said.
It is helping to transform lives.
Renovatus resident David Gray put it this way.
"Before you come here you're like a caterpillar. You come into here a cocoon. While you are here you are trying to build yourself up, build your wings strong, so when you leave up out of here you can fly."