Heart of Utah: Students plan and plant healing grove in Lehi

May 28, 2021, 7:09 AM | Updated: 10:19 am

LEHI, Utah — High school students are helping create and grow a new healing grove in Utah County. They hope it can be a place for people dealing with anxiety or stress to find peace through nature.

The shady and secluded spot is found by winding through the trails at Thanksgiving Point, reaching near the waterfalls at Ashton Gardens.

Peace at the plant healing grove 

On a recent Wednesday, marketing students and football team members from American Fork High School all had shovels in hand to plant new trees and lay down mulch.

“This is a special day, because it’s the first day we are getting things ready,” said Lily Miller, a junior who is the president of DECA, the marketing club at AFHS.

Miller said they had been working on the idea for several years. They dug holes to place the trees and shrubs to eventually help build a beautiful and private spot. 

The main inspiration for the project: a natural place for people to feel peace.

“Whenever you are feeling anxious, often nature is what really connects you back to feeling calm,” said senior Will Matheson. “We wanted to make this a people could have a place to go, to reset, to charge their batteries.”

Their teacher is Mr. Calvin Barnum, but Matheson says he left the project up to them.

“It’s easy to say, that’s wrong or that’s wrong, but he’s let us make our own mistakes. He has let us grow as we do this project. We have felt an ownership and a connection to this place,” said Matheson.


Dazzled by American Fork students 

The horticulture coordinator for Thanksgiving Point Ashton Gardens, Sarah Allred, was impressed and grateful for the AFHS students.

“It’s been amazing. We’ve been working on this for over a couple of years, and today they are just working so fast. Our smaller crews would take more time. These football guys got a lot done in 30 minutes,” she said.

Allred helped teach them about how to plant trees properly, like digging a wide enough circle, taking care of the roots, and watering. She heard the students helping one another out during the process, and believes they will take that knowledge home as well.

The day of actually planting was just part one of a three-phase project. Eventually, the healing grove will have more plants, pathways, benches, and a community circle for families or groups to use.

Allred says the future of the project depends on fundraising. They had a generous contribution from 97th Floor, a marketing firm in Lehi, and are seeking grants and other money to continue to add to the grove.

The community can donate through Thanksgiving Point as well here.

“We want it to be private,” said Allred. “There are some beautiful spaces here, but with a lot of people around. So this will have trees and shrubs and you can hear the waterfall, and have quiet.”

Matheson said it was a great spot. “It’s a quiet area, you can hear the waterfalls, which adds to the calming, and helping people feel like they are in nature,” he said.

Miller says the students’ goal was to help the community, and give back to the community.

“This is a great opportunity and be a part of our future and everyone else as well,” she said.

Related: The entire collection of Heart of Utah stories 


Students from American Fork High School gather at Ashton Gardens prepare to start planting trees. 

May 12, 2021 

Colby Walker, KSL NewsRadio Students work at planting trees at Ashton Gardens.

May 12, 2021 

Colby Walker, KSL NewsRadio Students water freshly planted trees. 

May 12, 2021 

Colby Walker, KSL NewsRadio American Fork High School Senior Will Matheson.

May 12, 2021 

Colby Walker, KSL NewsRadio American Fork High School Junior and DECA President Lily Miller 

May 12, 2021 

Colby Walker, KSL NewsRadio Students from American Fork High School gathered to begin work on a project to create a healing grove at Ashton Gardens they hope will be a blessing to students and the community to help them find peace and recharge. 

May 12, 2021 

Colby Walker, KSL NewsRadio

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Heart of Utah: Students plan and plant healing grove in Lehi