Resident gardening teams at Lifeview’s four homes in Victoria have just finished planting the latest crops of vegetables that will end up served in meals for all residents.
The Planting with a Purpose program, which commenced late September, sees residents germinating seedlings and planting and tending to crops in the garden and raised garden beds and harvesting the fresh produce.
The program involves the facilities’ chefs who advise the gardening teams quarterly of the fresh produce they will be requiring so the provider’s gardeners and residents can cultivate and grow as much of these items as they can.
Lifeview manager hospitality services Stephen Milsted said there were six to 10 residents per home actively involved in planting, tending and harvesting the produce.
“We have just planted broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, cabbage, red cabbage more beetroot, celery, spinach, iceberg lettuce and carrots,” Mr Milsted told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Residents also grow silverbeet, squash, zucchini, lettuce, bok choy, sweet corn, tomatoes, herbs and flowers including roses, Mr Milsted said.
While Lifeview previously had gardening programs for residents including raised garden beds at all homes, this initiative takes it to a new level, he said.
“It is more about taking to the next level and making the gardening resources more productive and purposeful, and creating something that residents can be further involved in,” Mr Milsted said.
“We added mobile planter boxes so that the gardening process can continue inside the homes during the winter months.”
Many residents water the garden, check for pests, or pick produce for chefs daily while some might pick a tomato and eat it there and then, Mr Milsted said.
The program allows residents to contribute to the community with something tangible, he said.
Residents are aware when their produce is presented on their plate by a symbol on the menu.
“[It provides] a sense of satisfaction that gardeners bring from planting seeds or seedlings to harvesting and eating home grown produce,” Mr Milsted said.
Residents Jimmy and Nancye from Lifeview The Willows in Wheelers Hill are keen gardeners and have both taken on leadership roles in the program.
Jimmy is the head gardener and Nancye oversees the flowers.
Jimmy said his favourite part of the program is “getting out there and getting my hands dirty.”
“I love seeing the end product and love eating fresh vegies,” Jimmy told AAA.
He said his favourite vegetables to grow are cauliflower and cabbage.
Nancye said her favourite part of the program is being able to enjoy the sunshine and working with others.
“The gardeners are wonderful. They have so much knowledge,” Nancye told AAA.
Nancye said she particularly enjoys growing roses.
Lifeview’s four aged care homes Argyle Court, Emerald Glades, The Willows and Willow Wood are actively involved in the program.
Main image: Lifeview The Willows residents Jimmy and Nancye gardening.