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Community Gardening for Senior Citizens, Too! -

  • Subject: [cg] Community Gardening for Senior Citizens, Too! -
  • From: adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2006 12:43:42 -0400

Residents at Applewood Estates reap what they sow 
Keeping active found to provide them with health, social benefits 

After spending much of their lives tilling New Jersey soil, Bill Black and Lloyd Van Doren have revived their interest in farming, turning it into a fruitful hobby in gardening. 
The two men are members of the Applewood Garden Club at Applewood Estates, a life-care retirement community in Freehold Township that is part of the CentraState Healthcare System. This past year, the club's membership has tripled in size to 135 members mostly because residents enjoy reaping what they sow - homegrown vegetables and flowers - as well as the chance to stay active, according to an Applewood Estates press release. 
Gardening is an activity that can make a difference in the lives of older adults by offering them a physical, social and recreational opportunity with their neighbors, according to the press release. 
On any given day, Black and Van Doren can be found cultivating a well-manicured, 40-foot-by-100-foot patch of land, according to the press release. 
The two men find it rewarding to use their many years of farming experience to yield a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants and squash, as well as an array of flowers, the press release said. 
"The dog days of summer don't faze them a bit," Lucille Zaayenga, an Applewood resident and club member, stated in the release. "They're just plain used to it from many years of farming." 
As a result, the garden is a popular feature at Applewood Estates, where a $38 million expansion/renovation is under way, according to the press release. 
Van Doren, the club manager, stated in the press release that last year he decided to make it a community garden by allowing members to join for a $5 fee to cover the club's expenses. In exchange, residents can volunteer in the garden or simply share in its fresh produce and flowers, the press release said. 
Gardening is not only engaging and fun, but it's also very therapeutic, explained Heleyne Gladstein, director of sales and marketing, in the press release. 
"It's an easy way for residents to stay active, and physical activity helps older adults stay healthier and happier," she stated in the release. 
Van Doren, who once owned a 192-acre hay farm in the Somerset County community of Griggstown, stated in the release that he tries to make farmers out of residents. 
"I don't mind getting my hands dirty," he said in the release, "but the greatest joy for me is giving the vegetables away." 
Black and Van Doren like getting on their hands and knees to plant and pick produce, but still appreciate the help they get from Applewood staff member Bernie Dzurella and teenage volunteers from the area, according to the press release. 
The garden at Applewood Estates is designed so that everyone, regardless of mental or physical challenges, can fully enjoy its beauty and bounty, the press release said. 
Some club members prefer picking, packing and delivering to digging in the soil, but everyone benefits from the handpicked vegetables, the bright bouquets of fresh flowers and the opportunity to socialize with fellow residents, the press release said. 
"They enjoy getting the fresh fruit, and it's free," Black stated in the release. "Residents who help are very much into it, and they do a good job." 
Black continued in the release, "When we have an abundant crop, we share with residents who are not members. Last year was a good year." 
At one time, he grew 85 acres of tomatoes for Campbell's soup at his farm in Upper Freehold, and today he grows 95 tomato plants for Applewood, according to the press release. 
"It's something that keeps me happy," he stated in the release. "It's what I can contribute, and I'm glad to do it." 
Construction is ongoing at Applewood Estates to add 20 upscale cottages and 50 deluxe apartment homes in addition to a number of social and recreation areas to the existing 44-acre community. In addition, the community is undergoing a complete remodeling of all public and common areas, and the residential health-care unit and health-care center will be remodeled as well, according to the press release. 
The new expansion phase is expected to be completed in early 2007, with reservations currently being accepted for apartments and cottages. Hard-hat tours are now being offered, and a model cottage is expected to open soon, according to the press release. 
Applewood Estates is a nonprofit, all-inclusive, life-care community sponsored by the CentraState Healthcare System. Residents age 65 and older can enjoy a quality lifestyle with all the amenities of retirement-living today while ensuring that their long-term health and financial future are secure. A full continuum of care is available to residents on one campus, ranging from independent living homes, on-site health care, assisted living
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