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Growing Goodness: Gardening at Pennswood Village

Posted on August 3, 2018 in Community Highlight, Resident Profile

Pennswood Village offers residents a variety of avenues to grow, and some of those avenues literally involve planting seeds in the earth.

“I’m weeding and harvesting and enjoying every minute of it,” says resident Sue Espenshade, who begins most of her days nurturing the flora she’s planted in her part of the community’s garden.

Sue & Jack Espenshade

Sue & Jack Espenshade

Pennswood has devoted about an acre of land on its beautiful campus to the garden. That acre has been subdivided into several 20-foot by 20-foot plots with 6-inch raised wooden borders. At the beginning of the season in March, residents sign up for a plot (or whatever portion of a plot they wish to have). The garden has plenty of plots available; a few residents work on multiple plots, while staff members tend unclaimed plots.

“I’ve always loved to garden as a little child digging around, so I think it’s in my blood,” Sue says. “It’s good exercise and a nice little walk. I go early in the morning around 6:30 am. It’s just a wonderful way to start the day.”

Green thumbs on the Community Garden Committee

Sue’s husband, Jack, heads the Community Garden Committee, a group of 10 residents who oversee the bountiful community garden for the dozens of residents who take advantage of it.

“Plot holders can grow whatever they wish,” he explains. “There are annual and perennial flowers, vegetables of all sorts, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, a peach tree and a fig tree.

“The Landscape Department keeps the garden area mowed and trimmed,” he continues. “They provide free tilling and fertilizing in the spring. The upkeep of individual garden plots and their surroundings is solely the plot holder’s responsibility.”

The committee meets monthly during the March-to-October growing season. Just before the season begins, the committee holds a public meeting to assign plots for the coming year.

“We have an annual open house in the first week of September where we put out refreshments and open the place up for people to look at what’s left,” Jack says. “After that we have a wrap-up meeting in October, which is open to the public. That’s just to talk about problems we had and what we might do differently.”

Jack explains what prompted him to get involved in the committee:

“My wife and I took a garden plot here even before I moved here,” he says. “She loves gardening; we took a plot together. What appealed to me was that it was an outdoor activity with low-key, easygoing people.”

Gardeners enjoy many benefits from the “meadow garden” (as some refer to the community garden): the outdoor exercise; the tranquility of being surrounded by natural beauty; and the satisfaction of enjoying the ‘fruits of their labor,’ whether it’s the aesthetic pleasure of a gorgeous flower or the tastiness of a freshly picked berry.

A harvest that benefits everyone

The gardeners are more than happy to share these pleasures with the rest of the community. Many of the fresh vegetables are sent to the community kitchen, while the flowers often “end up in the hallways around the apartments,” Jack says, referring to the blooms in many pots and vases perched on the shelves just outside residents’ doors.

Residents are encouraged to garden organically, although they aren’t required to do so.

“There are a lot of movements within the community here for conservation and caring for the earth,” he adds. “It’s the offspring of the basic Quaker values of simplicity and caring for things. It’s a real strong underlying principle [for people].”

If gardening at Pennswood Village is something you think you’d enjoy as part of an inspired senior lifestyle, we invite you for a tour of our campus! See the garden, meet current residents and get answers to all the questions you may have about active senior living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Schedule your tour today!

Stay tuned for more stories about how the garden at Pennswood Village helps cultivate inspired living, both on and off our campus!