How to Plan for and Plant a Garden in Your Senior Community
As the weather warms up and the ground thaws out, it might be time for activities directors to consider planting a garden of nursing home or assisted living center property. Seniors will find a wonderful sense of accomplishment in planting healthy fruits and vegetables and then harvesting them throughout the season.
How do you get started? The steps to a small community garden are easy, and by incorporating composting you can also make your garden even more sustainable.
Choose a Garden Type
A container garden? A greenhouse? Raised beds? There are many choices for your garden.
Raised beds with 2×4 borders work well in most communities, making an effective use of the space so you can do more in less land. You also eliminate the risk of seniors tripping or falling over vines or plants, since they do not have to walk through rows of crops. Keep the beds relatively narrow – maximum two to three feet across, so no one has to stretch to far to reach the crops in the center.
A container garden can be convenient but limiting in how much you can grow, and when the season is over, you are left with containers to store. However, planting herbs and spices in a small container garden can be a great supplement to the main garden, and even seniors in wheelchairs can help tend container gardens.
Decide What to Plant
What you decide to plan in your garden depends on your location and the space available. Strawberries, peas, carrots, peppers, cucumbers and of course, the ubiquitous zucchini, which grows in abundance virtually everywhere, are good choices. Choose vegetables with varying harvest times so seniors will see results immediately and stay motivated to garden.
Benefits of Gardening in a Senior Community
Gardening is excellent exercise, and gets seniors out in the sun and fresh air with a good reason. The activity of gardening is repetitive and therapeutic and has been shown to have positive effects on memory care residents.
Additionally, several studies have shown the garden can improve health outcomes of those who are seriously will, while improving the activity levels of elderly who are not mobile.
A group activity may even involve bringing local elementary or middle school students in to help the seniors tend the garden. Then everyone can enjoy a meal together with fresh-grown produce from the garden.
Your senior community garden will quickly become a source of pride for seniors involved in the activity.
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