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Volunteer Gardeners Donate Produce to Community Food Pantry

All generations help drive down senior hunger

AARP volunteers in community garden in Georgia

Thoi Seggerman and Daniel Hoover pick eggplant in AARP’s plot in a Mableton community garden. All the produce is donated to a food pantry. — Photo by Kendrick Brinson/LUCEO Image

When Thoi Seggerman recently moved to Atlanta from Singapore, she wanted to get involved in her new community through volunteer work. She also wanted to indulge her love of gardening.

Seggerman, 58, a retired cosmetologist, found both when she checked AARP's Create the Good website and saw that AARP Georgia needed people to help tend its patch in the Historic Mableton Community Garden.

See also: Faces of hunger in America.

It's a 30-mile round trip for Seggerman, but the chance to grow organic vegetables — tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant and green beans — was a strong draw. So was AARP Georgia's plan for the 300 pounds of produce it expected to harvest. It all goes to a food pantry that serves low-income families and individuals.

Several dozen volunteers have signed on to weed, water and harvest AARP Georgia's 20-by-30-foot plot. It's the first of several community gardens AARP Georgia plans to plant.

Lifelong community

The garden is an oasis on a bustling road that cuts through Mableton, 15 miles west of downtown Atlanta. Plans for the garden sprouted last fall from an effort by the Atlanta Regional Commission to transform Mableton into a community where residents can live and thrive through all stages of aging. Part of the project, called Lifelong Mableton, is the garden. The first seeds of AARP's plot were planted in April

"The garden is so much more than a garden," said Cheryl Mayerik, coordinator of Lifelong Mableton. In addition to beauty, she said, it offers older adults a way to exercise and socialize.

Next: Helping to fight hunger. >>

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