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Senior center planting purpose with new community garden

BUCHANAN, Mich. -- A community garden that just started in one Berrien County community is cultivating purpose for the seniors that live there.

“The soil is good, the plants are good,” said Buchanan Senior Center Program Coordinator Jan Ferris. “We have tomatoes and peppers and eggplant.”

Ferris says the center started a community garden this summer to promote physical activity and social interaction among its patrons.

“We wanted to have a garden for the seniors to work because a lot of the seniors have moved from the country... or a home into apartments and they don’t have a garden and they miss it,” said Ferris. “They were gardners. It’s also a way to provide produce much needed produce to seniors to help with their nutrition.”

The center also wants to tackle senior hunger with the garden. The public health issue threatens many older Americans. Feeding America estimates 7.6 percent of seniors aged 60 and older live in food insecure homes in Michigan.

Seniors who participate in Buchanan’s garden can harvest any veggies they want for free.

“In many communities, the seniors don’t have the funds,” said Ferris. “They’re on a limited income, so they can’t afford to buy fresh produce. If they can get into a commodities program, we do it here quarterly and monthly, but sometimes the food that they get is canned food or dried, so fresh produce is very important.”

Any leftover vegetables and herbs will be given to other seniors in the area.

“You can just get immersed in it, get out in the sunshine, and really just get into the planting and growing and watching things,” said Ferris. “I think that’s important that they can do that.”

The center hopes the garden, filled with organic herbs, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, and more, grows the physical, social, and mental states of its patrons.

“Sometimes the price of fresh produce can be a little prohibitive, especially organic,” said Ferris. “You don’t know how long its been on a truck. If you pick it, you know it’s fresh and you know it doesn’t have chemicals in it.”

The center is still looking for seniors to participate in the garden. To be eligible people must live in Buchanan. Anyone interested can contact the center at (269) 695-7119.


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