Personal Garden Plots Yield Fresh Food, Socialization, and More Benefits for Dallas Retirement Village Residents.
Spring has come to Dallas, Oregon, and that means gardening. And what better time to dig in and get your hands dirty than April—National Lawn and Garden Month!
In recent years, community gardens have made a significant statement in support of the Dallas area culture. Large gardens have sprung up in numerous locations in Marion/Polk counties and the Dallas Garden Club touts a popular mission of growing and giving back to the surrounding community. These community garden initiatives are attracting gardeners of every age and level of experience.
What has made community gardens so popular? People are discovering getting involved in a garden project can yield more than just fresh, healthy produce to support one’s food supply. The activity—especially for seniors—is a great way to promote socialization and bring neighborhoods together. And, Dallas Retirement Village is onboard with the garden rage. This is their story and how their campus community gardens are bringing tremendous benefits to all their senior living residents who want to nurture a personal garden at Dallas Retirement Village.
Getting a Community Garden Started in a Senior Living Community.
A Perfect Fit. The residents of Dallas Retirement Community are deeply connected to their surrounding community. They also enjoy vibrant, active senior living, along with rewarding opportunities they can get from an activity like gardening—for example, fresh veggies, and cultivating wonderful friendships in a group setting. So as the community garden concept started to increase in popularity in the Dallas area, “We’re IN,” they said. “Let’s get a campus community garden started here.”
The #1 Gardening Cheerleader. One of the biggest advocates for a campus community garden at Dallas Retirement Village was Village resident David Fletcher. When David was serving as Council Member for the Dallas Retirement Foundation, he felt like a community garden project was a good fit for the Foundation who likes to use “Bloom where you are planted” as it’s mantra when encouraging residents to donate/fund projects within the community where they live.
David convinced the Board to fund the purchase of building materials for seven raised individual garden beds. The original seven beds have now grown to 30 garden spaces and additional barrels for plantings located near the Village Apartments and also outside the Assisted Living residences. Residents sign up for their personal garden spaces through the Life Enrichment department.
Everyone Joins In. Needless to say, the community gardens at Dallas Retirement Village have grown in popularity every year. Residents and staff alike seem to join in on this fun outdoor activity and the ultimate satisfaction that comes with it. Jim and Catherine Baltimore love gardening and are at their bed frequently enjoying this great amenity.
After initial funding from the Foundation, the community’s Facilities Operations department took over. The department’s groundskeepers added their talents and also secured contractors to construct the beds. Landscapers help with the weeds that peek through the gravel surrounding the beds, and they also add soil annually for residents who want it. The Dining Services department even secured one of the beds where they planted herbs.
Each year, various donations seem to materialize, as well — like a Lodge resident who regularly donates Miracle Grow. The Foundation remains active by making sure David has a bi-annual budget for fertilizer, flowers, bulbs, soil, and starter plants to jump-start each particular growing season. And the community recently purchased materials and labor for a new garden/tool shed to be used and enjoyed by all.
Real, Individual Pride. Residents plant, cultivate, nurture, and harvest—mostly fruits and vegetables—but flowers are popular, too, in their own garden beds. Growing fruits, vegetables and flowers, many residents—past and present—have been members of the Polk County Master Gardeners. Many contribute acquired practices and advice to fellow gardeners and use favorite tools from past gardens. Besides the camaraderie that’s obvious among the gardeners, other residents enjoy visiting the garden sites to take in the wonder of growth and nature, share in the beauty of the floral plantings, and just to see what’s going on!
The Benefits of Community Gardening—Some Are Obvious, Others Not so Much!
Above, we have just touched on a few of the benefits of gardening as a rewarding amenity in a community setting—access to fresh foods, socialization. We’d like to leave you with a few more benefits you may not have thought about. Community gardens within a senior living community setting can offer these additional benefits:
- Seniors of any skill level can participate in some way.
- Participants learn about their surroundings, sustainable practices, and the local climate.
- Group gardening provides a shared sense of purpose for residents.
- Gardening increases levels of physical activity, mobility, flexibility, and improves endurance and strength.
- Experts say gardening reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, slows heart rate, and promotes relaxation.
- And, think of all the Vitamin D you’ll soak up being out in the sunshine!
Come See Our Campus Community Gardens!
This spring or summer, we’d like to show you our welcoming, friendly, and close-knit community—as well as what’s in bloom at Dallas Retirement Village. Contact us to arrange for a personal tour.