o get away from the memories of war in Afghanistan — the violence, the unexpected danger, the rush of adrenaline and the hypervigilance that can come with post-traumatic stress disorder — Aaron Newsom started gardening.
Since World War II, generations of veterans have found healing in horticulture. Digging in the dirt did that for Newsom, but the Marine, who served in an attack helicopter squadron, wanted more. He wanted to share this healing feeling with service members who may never even touch a spade, and he had an idea.
In addition to the public gardening he was doing in Santa Cruz County, California, Newsom kept a secret garden in his home. “I grew medical cannabis for myself in my spare bedroom. I didn’t tell anyone for at least a year,” he said. “When I finally told my mom and dad, with my dad being so conservative, I thought they’d freak out, but they were both totally supportive, because I was growing it for the right reasons.”