By gardening, recovering addict tends to his soul - FOX 13 News

By gardening, recovering addict tends to his soul

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

You would never know it was there unless someone told you. Lighthouse Ministries has a hydroponics garden on its property right in the middle of downtown Lakeland. A high stone wall surrounds it.

But the man who manages the garden says what he has experienced in the quiet enclave is even more amazing.

"When you start something from seed, it sprouts, and if everything is going good, it brings a lot of satisfaction that you are growing food. For me, it's God," Gary Watkins told FOX 13.

Watkins says he has gotten a lot closer to God since he has been at Lighthouse. Six years ago, he was living in south Florida when his life fell apart because of personal and financial problems and he became an alcoholic.

Eventually, he made his way to Lighthouse.

"He was pretty self-centered when he came into the program," said Steve Turbeville, the head of the ministry. "You can really see he wants to help other people now."

He is. All the food Watkins grows ends up on the plates of the other people who live at the shelter.

Soon, he will be leaving Lighthouse and striking out on his own. He told us he is going to miss his garden.

"I really love it out here," he said. "It has really been a big part of me."

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