Community gardening co-op brings residents together

At Foxwell in Kittery, Maine, a group of residents have formed a gardening cooperative to transform their outdoor living spaces into beautiful displays featuring flowers, greenery, lawn ornaments, bird houses, and more. It started with simple landscaping maintenance — raking leaves, picking up fallen branches, painting the wooden fence behind the property — and mushroomed from there.

Although Avesta’s property management team occasionally provides supplies such as seed packets and loam, most of the materials are provided by participating residents, and they do all of the planting, arranging, and maintenance themselves. More than half of the homes are decorated to some degree.

“It makes them feel like they’re at home,” said Resident Service Coordinator Lindsey Avers. “They not just planting flowers — they’re raking, weeding, painting, and much more. They’re really passionate about it.”

For older adults, gardening is more than just a chance to grow edibles or beautify a space. It also provides numerous health benefits, including increased social engagement, higher self-esteem, and physical exercise that strengthens muscles while lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Many Avesta properties provide raised beds or other gardening opportunities for residents. (Restrictions apply at most properties; residents should contact their property management staff for information.)

“You talk to your neighbors, you get your exercise, you get some sun – it’s a win-win all over,” said Annmarie Wade, one of the group’s organizers. “I’m not just sitting on my butt watching TV; I’m getting stuff done.”

In addition to Annmarie, core members of the gardening group include Patty Coulters, Bob Poliquin, Bill Goodman, Dawn Smart, Yvonne Sullivan, and Linda Machulis. In true community spirit, they help each other out as needed and decorate spaces for those who want to participate but have physical limitations that prevent them from doing so.

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life here. This is my home, and I want it to look good,” said Annmarie. “That’s why I do it.”