Seniors to benefit from community garden


With help from volunteers ages 4 to 91, Southwest Senior Center is expanding its community garden in order to provide more fresh produce to neighborhood seniors. The garden is a joint project of the Center and the Mental Health Collective at 3548 Bryant Avenue that provides the land for the garden along with help in preparing and maintaining it.

The goals of the garden are to provide nutritious food, create intergenerational gardening opportunities, stimulate social interaction and help seniors reduce their food budgets.

While many of the participants at the Center grew up eating fresh vegetables from their farm or backyard garden, few now have access to just picked produce. Based on feedback from last year’s inaugural year, the garden will include more tomato, cucumber, and pepper plants and fewer herbs. “We found that people really loved the opportunity to eat the items right out of the garden without having to cook them,” stated Laura Campbell, the Center’s Adult Day Manager. The garden provides opportunities to work with plants and to eat delicious and nutritious produce.

Volunteers have made all the difference in terms of getting the garden ready, planting the seeds and ongoing garden maintenance. Volunteer Sarah Tarleton and her four year old son Cade have been heading up this year’s project of starting the plants from seeds. “It has been fun to watch the seeds grow into healthy plants and to know that we are helping to grow vegetables for friends and ourselves,” said Evelyn Arbo, age 73. On May 9, twelve volunteers helped with the heavy digging to get the garden ready for the May 20 planting date. Many more volunteers will be involved with the regular weeding, watering and harvesting. This summer, the Center is partnering with teens from Bryant Square Park who will come on Wednesdays to work with the seniors to weed and water.

If you’d like to be a garden volunteer, please contact Mary Ann Schoenberger, Center Director, at 612.822.3194 or Volunteers of America – Southwest Senior Center is located at 3612 Bryant Avenue.

Mary Ann Schoenberger is Director of Southwest Senior Center.

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