The “Elders on the Grow” meet on Thursday afternoons at the Hillsborough County Nursing Home. Visitors often stop in to see which project we’re undertaking and breathe in the aromas of fresh herbs and flowers.
This group that started in 2002 with 6-8 people now takes up six tables for a group of 12-15 residents. It all started when a grow cart was donated to the 4th floor residents. Having been trained with the County Master Gardener Program, I was looking for a volunteer project and was aimed in that direction by the Extension Service.
The grow cart is presently a small tropical oasis in the corner of the dining room. This lush corner was only the beginning as the resident’s enthusiasm to grow more herbs, vegetables and flowers was evident.
One time, when we were working with tiny seedlings, Lillian said, “It feels like we’re taking care of little babies when the plants are this small.” Nurturing was a huge part of her life for many years as a mother and nurse. Tending these small plants was rewarding and self fulfilling and gave her a sense of worth.
In the future, we wish to include more friends and families in the gardening group in order to be able to extend to the other floors of the Nursing Home. Also, on our wish list are a greenhouse to work in and many volunteers to establish outdoor gardens for residents to enjoy on a regular basis. We are very happy with the way this program is working and are looking forward to watching it grow.