Eric Brown, left, Molly Costable and Allison Foster help plant the Hope Garden at Twin Brook in Cumberland this month. Contributed / Allison Foster

When Cumberland’s new Hope Garden at Twin Brook comes into bloom next spring, organizers hope it will bring more than just tulips.

Planted as part of the town’s bicentennial celebration, the goal of the Cumberland/North Yarmouth Mental Health Committee garden is to bring awareness to mental health issues.

“It’s about smashing the stigma around mental illness, opening up the conversation and pulling folks out of their isolation during COVID,” said Town Councilor Allison Foster.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. By planting the bulbs in September, they will bloom in May.

Community members pitch in to plant the Hope Garden in Cumberland Sept. 18. Contributed / Molly Costable

“In May we’ll come back together as a community to be there for the blooming,” Foster said. “It’s great symbolism and a great visual representation of the fact that hope is here.”

Twin Brook Recreation Area was selected as the site of the garden because the park draws community members of all ages and demographics. The committee hopes to have a plaque in place soon to provide details on the meaning and significance of the garden.

“When you plant a bulb, you plant it deep and dark down in the hole. Then in the spring, it buds into a flower and it becomes a thing of beauty,” said committee member Eric Brown, SAD 15 risk assessment/mental health specialist. “From something dark comes hope and happiness.”

The hope is that those who get to visit the garden can feel a sense of belonging and know that they are not alone in whatever they may be feeling or going through.

“People look at it and it’s a reminder of all the good things and that through personal struggle, there’s always going to be hope. I ultimately want people to reflect on that,” Brown said. “Hope is a powerful thing.”

Another Hope Garden will be planted at the North Yarmouth Community Center at 6 p.m. Oct. 12. As they were with the Twin Brook garden, all residents are invited to participate in the planting.

The mental health committee will also host a number of other community events in the coming months. More information on the committee and its goals can be found on the mental health resources page of the town website.

“You are not alone,” said Foster. “Just like a tulip doesn’t grow as a single tulip, you are in this bunch, this community, of flowers, and you are surrounded in that fullness.”

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