Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 5, 2013
Healthy food choices sprout at Deer Run
Community comes together to create gardens
by Karin Sanborn
Deer Run Apartment residents are enjoying the newest addition to their facilities, a garden area complete with raised beds for veggies and herbs.
With a paved walkway surrounded by a few newly planted perennials, it has become another reason to socialize while browsing the day’s yield, say residents of the apartment complex.
Sharon Eaton, the site manager at Deer Run and food nutritionist for residents and guests alike, said she got the idea for the raised bed gardens from Marion Foss, who had been bringing her vegetables for the residents for the past few years.
Foss, a local Master Gardener, Eaton, and Kathy Burgess, another local Master Gardener, applied to Maine Farmland Trust Community Food Grant and received a grant, which helped to cover the cost of supplies needed for the proposed project. Bar Harbor Bank & Trust made a donation to launch the gardening project.
However, Eaton explained, it is the community members and residents bringing their talent and ideas and effort as volunteers that has been most amazing. “We have a community calendar for residents to sign up for watering, and teaching times Tuesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m., to learn how to care for the gardens,” she said. “We are open to ideas and have received a lot of interest, and help.”
The site was designed by Charlene Spindler; Skip Eaton did the excavation and construction work, and Ebon Foss helped with the layout, preparation and designing of the gardening area.
Raised beds, at two heights for access from wheelchairs to walkers to alleviate kneeling for easy access, have made it possible for those who may have given up on gardening due to limitations, Eaton explained.
The Deer Run Apartments comprise 24 units in a community setting designed for independent living for the elderly based on income through the nonprofit Housing Foundation of Maine. Nearly all have flower gardens, and Eaton said residents often have downsized from larger homes with vegetable gardens. She said this would offer them the chance to reminisce and share fresh, organic food once again.
According to Eaton, those who have been involved with the gardens include residents Carlos Amaral, Tenney Gavaza, Lisa Haskell, Evelyn Hardy, and Charlotte Campbell. The Evergreen Garden Club has donated plants bordering the garden, as have Deer Isle Taxidermy, Bar Harbor Bank and many others, Eaton said. “This is a community project,” she added.
They have hopes to expand on their garden area and would like to invite community members to visit and see what a great project this has become.
Despite a late start this season, residents are enjoying tomatoes, radishes, beans, lettuce, herbs, and beans. With sights set on extended growing lessons for greens and hearty fall harvest, the gardeners look forward to next year with a wish list. To accommodate those who would like to sit, they need benches, a round table with umbrella, compost bin, large planting urns, organic mulch, miracle grow, and any bulbs. For more information contact Marion Foss at 348-6939.