Posts

Partnerships revive garden at Stonecrest in Standish

This is part two of a three-part series on community gardens at Avesta properties.

The residents at Stonecrest in Standish have had a community garden for several years, thanks to a partnership with Rippling Waters Organic Farm. In 2007, Standish-based Rippling Waters received a grant from Gorham Savings Bank to build the gardens at the senior community of 12 apartments.

Earlier this year, phase 2 of Stonecrest opened, adding another 25 apartments and breathing new life into the community gardening effort. New residents meant a need for expanded garden space. Avesta applied for and received a $400 grant from NeighborWorks America (of which Avesta is a chartered member) to help fund the addition of three new raised beds at the property to complement the existing six. The residents worked together to build the beds, and Rippling Waters supplied the plants.

Liz from Rippling Waters visits Stonecrest every Monday morning to help residents tend to the garden. She can always count on a group of six residents to show up, while a handful of others help out when they’re able. “The majority of people helping are new to gardening,” Liz says. “It’s going pretty well.” The residents harvest the vegetables and put them in the community room to share with their neighbors; a chalkboard alerts residents to what’s available.

Theresa has been working in the gardens since she moved into Stonecrest over two years ago, when there were just two people keeping the effort alive. She’s happy to see more of her neighbors participate this year. “It’s good for the whole community for everyone to have fresh veggies. And I’m willing to work for it.”

The residents are growing beets, radishes, lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, carrots, leeks and other vegetables that anyone is free to pick and use, or collect from the kitchen. At a recent community cookout, residents and guests got to enjoy a salad that included veggies fresh from the garden.

“The stuff is good so far,” she says. “I love anything out of the garden.”

Read Part One of the community gardening series: Community gardening improves quality of life for seniors in Raymond


By Mindy Woerter, Communications Manager

Community gardening improves quality of life for seniors in Raymond

This is part one of a three-part series on community gardens at Avesta properties.

Gardening is a newfound passion for Benny. He had a small garden years ago but said he gave up on it after his wife died in 1983. A former Portland cab driver, Benny has lived at Avesta’s Jordan Bay Place, a housing community for people 62+ in Raymond, for six years but didn’t get involved in the community garden until last year.

And now he’s hooked.

From left, Benny, Michial and Junior talk about their community garden plans

He visits the garden “a dozen times a day” and half-jokingly admits to singing to the plants. “I didn’t think I’d get into it this much,” he says.

Benny is one of a handful of residents at Jordan Bay who have thrown themselves into the community garden. On a recent overcast day, the residents were out surveying the garden with Michial Russell, the farm manager for Pearson’s Town Farm at Saint Joseph’s College. Michial has been helping the residents double the size of their garden this year, thanks to a $400 grant from Kitchen Gardeners International, a Scarborough-based nonprofit. The grant provided the funding for four new raised beds, which Michial helped the residents build.

“It’s part of our commitment to helping people,” Michial says. “I enjoy getting out and helping people get going and eat better.”

Benny and his neighbors list off this year’s crops: squash, green peppers, tomatoes, beans, cauliflower, radishes, beets, cantaloupe and herbs, to name a few. Residents who are interested in gardening divvy up space in the beds volunteer their time and skills growing and harvesting the fruits and veggies. They share their harvest with their neighbors by putting it in a basket in the community room.

“It keeps us busy,” Benny says about the garden. “It’s great for conversation. People are constantly talking about it and what’s going on out here.”

As he surveys the garden, Benny talks about the A-frames he built last year for the cucumbers, and points out the seaweed he’s using as fertilizer. His gardening success is the result of techniques and tips he’s gleaned from YouTube, like using bars of soap dangling from plant stakes to ward off critters.

For Junior, another Jordan Bay resident, gardening is an old habit. He worked on a farm for most of his life, whether it was his grandparents’ farm, the Watkins farm in Casco or the 50-acre cattle farm he owned for 25 years.

For both Junior and Benny, the garden is more than a hobby – it’s a way to stay healthy. Working in the garden provided Benny a push to take on more physical activity; both he and Junior take daily 4-5 mile walks. Benny’s health conditions – diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol – have improved or disappeared altogether through his commitment to the garden.

“The garden is my exercise.”


By Mindy Woerter, Communications Manager