Community Gardens for the Entire Community
Why not take the idea of community gardens and apply it to the entire community? The town of Todmorden in the UK has created a program where gardens have been started throughout the town and are being used to feed the entire town. The concept is ‘brilliant’.
Think about having garden in everyone’s yard. You can grow things that you like and share extra produce with others. What if you had chickens and could trade the eggs with your neighbor for fresh rosemary, tomatoes or potatoes?
Maybe the elders in the community who have had experience tending gardens and growing vegetables and herbs could use their experience to teach others. Retirement communities could even become classrooms for teaching. And, in turn, school yards become laboratories for learning. Think about all of the partnerships and collaborations that will develop. Parks, fire stations, libraries, churches and other properties should be considered.
I know in my small hamlet of Medford, we have started a garden at our church to feed the needy. All of the produce raised is donated to two homeless centers. The vegetables were raised, in partnership with the Middle School students. We have just expanded the garden to include garden plots for other gardeners to help grow vegetables.Read more
Vitamin D & Exposure to Sunlight for Elders
It is important to remember that Vitamin D deficiency is under treated for elders. Many older adults spend more time indoors and have inadequate intake of Vitamin D. While Vitamin D supplements are part of the solution; most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when ultra violet rays from sunshine meet the skin and trigger Vitamin D synthesis. Elders complaining of unexplained pain, injuries from falls, gait disorders may all be a result of a lack of Vitamin D.
We need to create more opportunities for elders to spend time outdoors. Therapeutic Gardens, walking paths, nature trails, community vegetable gardens, bird watching walks, and other outdoor activities and programs will encourage elders to venture outdoors. Spending time in sunlight is vital to their health and well-being. Including benches and areas for socializing encourage people to spend more time outside. It also helps to include activities that elders would find in their neighborhoods such as putting greens, bocce and croquet courts. Settings also include continuing care communities, assisted living communities and Alzheimer’s residences.
The season of the year, the time of day, smog, and skin melatonin are among the factors affect Vitamin D synthesis. Cloud cover can reduce the suns potential energy by 50%. Shade reduces Vitamin D intake by 60%. Even though we may enjoy sitting next to a sunny window, the sun’s radiation does not penetrate glass. It is estimated that between 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week is helpful for Vitamin D production. Sunlight is best absorbed when the face, arms and legs are exposed without sunscreen. We need to create stimulating outdoor gardens and environments that encourage elders to spend more time outdoors!Read more
Top 10 Gifts for Gardeners – and people who just like being outside:
1. Maine Weather Stick is a natural barometer that helps tell if it is going to rain or will be sunny – Kinsman Company http://www.kinsmanwholesale.com/ ($6.95)
2.Paper Pot Maker tool to roll old newspapers into seed pots (#38-636) – Gardener’s Supply www.Gardeners.com ($19.95)
3. Subscription to a garden magazine, i.e. Garden Gate, Organic Gardening, Garden Design, Urban Farm and many others
4.Digging tools – high end gardening shovels, rakes, hand tools, children’s tools and many other garden implements www.sneeboerUSA.com
5.Chirp! USA features bird songs from across the continental US – This App for your phone can be found at www.spinysoft.co.uk ($2.99)
6.Heirloom tomato, melons, pumpkins, carrots and other vegetable seeds, that offer better taste, quality and nutritional value, www.rareseeds.com
7. The Raised Garden Kit make it easier to grow fresh vegetables and herbs in small spaces and comes in varying sizes, www.xcoutregalia.com ($95.00)
8. The Mobile Edible Walls vertical planters are a great way to grow fresh vegetables in a small spaces, www.agreenroof.com
9. Membership to an arboretum for garden visits throughout the year that will be an inspiration for all gardeners (and friends of gardeners)
10. Schedule a Garden Consultation for the new year to learn how to update and increase activities within the garden, www.designforgenerations.comRead more
BIRD SONGS – GARDEN THERAPY
Have you ever sat outside and wondered what the name of the bird is that is singing? Why not try downloading the “Chirp! Bird Songs USA+” App from the iTunes store. You can start with the birds you may hear in your yard such as, Robins, Cardinals, and House Finch. Listen to their songs and use the Chirp App to help identify the species, as well as read background information on each bird. It is great fun and something that you can share with others. There is a ‘Challenge’ feature to test your own knowledge or maybe help others learn more about this popular hobby. The slideshow option is great background option, in case you want to take a nature break from the computer or a busy day. A cautionary note – it may drive your cat crazy!Read more
THERAPEUTIC GARDEN CARE AND MAINTENANCE
One of the questions asked at the end of a lecture at the Leading Age Conference involved the maintenance of a Therapeutic Garden. The person asked if these gardens require more to maintain than other gardens. They were interested in reducing on- going maintenance in a garden. The simple answer is that all gardens require maintenance, however, if properly designed, gardens can require lower maintenance. A few suggestions to help reduce the care and maintenance of a garden include:
- Select plants that do not require frequent pruning
- Include indigenous plants – they will require less water and are suited for the region
- Limit the amount of annuals (plants that grow for just one season) and include more perennials
- Space plants closer together so they fill out sooner
- Eliminate plants that require constant pruning, such as hedges
- Organize gardening groups to help maintain the garden – it is good exercise and a way to stay socially engaged
- Plan special events to include garden ‘work’ parties
- Solicit the involvement of garden clubs, master gardeners and other interested people
- Hold classes in the garden to teach others gardening basics
- Create an endowment for the care and maintenance of the garden
These are a few of the basic ideas for helping to reduce the maintenance of the garden and a way to get others involved. A good design at the beginning insures that the garden gets off to a good start and improves its chances for success. Strategies to develop garden partners can help can reduce the maintenance burden on staff.Read more