Teacher associations team up to contribute to sensory garden


After months of collaboration between the Riverhead Central Faculty Association and Shoreham-Wading River Teacher’s Association, a sensory garden in Shoreham is closer to completion.

On Friday, the two associations donated garbage and recycling bins for the garden, which will be located at the Association for Habilitation and Residential Care, which provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Visitors to the garden, which is designed to stimulate all five senses through use of different plants and materials, will be greeted by a sound area, which contains a large xylophone and drum set. To the right are handicap accessible tables containing potted plants, allowing people to pick, smell and eat vegetables, said J. Andreassi, the director of development for AHRC.

Gary Karlson, the vice president of RCFA, said the goal is to make the space accessible so people throughout the community can enjoy it. He said when he heard Mr. Andreassi talk about the project, it aligned with the goals of the teacher’s association.

“So I reached out to our union president about getting involved a little bit and also to Shoreham figuring they’re its neighbor and they were more than excited,” said Mr. Karlson, whose son is a kindergartner at an AHRC school in Bohemia.

Mr. Karlson made the handicapped-accessible tables for people to enjoy food from the garden or to just have a place to sit and relax. A 20-foot section of river rock will be installed next to it.

“It’s going to be a labyrinth,” Mr. Andreassi said. “If you take your shoes off and walk on this, or even if you are in some kind of apparatus and you just get your foot down it’s gonna feel good. It’s gonna feel like a massage.”

A lazy Susan was installed nearby, which allows people of all abilities to spin the table and enjoy the plants atop it.

An eight-foot wall of compost and cable wire is in the midst of being built as well. Work is set to begin Monday night and plants will be able to grow up the entirety of the structure.

A water tower was installed that distributes water different ways — heavily like a shower, droplets like rain and a mist. Additionally, a handicap water fountain was built.

Numerous local companies, as well as Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, spent time over the last few months creating fences, mulching, laying brick, vegetable planting and more. The final components, such as the drum set and plants, should be completed around October, Mr. Andreassi said.

“I’m excited for the community to use it,” Mr. Karlson said. “I think people will be pretty interested in it.”

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Photo Caption: Linda Bruno, director of intermediate care facilities at AHRC Suffolk, J. Andreassi, director of development and foundation at AHRC, Gary Karlson, vice president of RCFA, Lucille McKee, SWRTA president, and Lisa Goulding, RCFA president, at the entrance to the sensory garden. (Credit: Nicole Smith)