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Ohio

Fresh Produce a 'Treat' for Recipients

Meals on Wheels delivers fresh vegetables from 'giving gardens' to low-income seniors

Getting the vegetable gardens established was especially challenging last year because of the drought, record high temperatures, groundhogs and a fire.

The Walnut Hills garden was attacked by groundhogs; this year volunteers will cover the plants with mesh and install fencing.

AARP's beds in the Over-the-Rhine garden were destroyed July 4 when they were ignited by fireworks. But everyone involved is ready to get started again this year.

Craiglow said AARP Ohio hopes to expand the giving garden project to an additional two to four gardens this year if there's enough community and volunteer interest.

Anyone interested in gardening or learning how to raise vegetables is welcome, Craiglow said. Not every volunteer needs a green thumb.

Tasks for non-gardeners
For instance, in Cincinnati and Dayton, where a garden with four beds was established last summer, jobs will include picking the produce, coordinating pickups, cleaning and sorting vegetables as they are harvested, and delivering the produce to Wesley for distribution.

Project coordinators also will be needed for the new locations.

"Just like a newly planted seed, the giving gardens require some time and nurturing," Craiglow said. "But, oh, what a gift. I've never seen such an appreciation for a tomato."

Judy Russell, 55, of Cheviot, the Meals on Wheels driver on the Evanston route, agreed.

"It's wonderful for these people. They don't get out to the grocery store for themselves. It means a lot to them," she said.

Ted Turner, 81, a resident at the Evanston, said he greatly appreciated the cabbage, greens, tomatoes and bell peppers he received. "I do like fresh vegetables."

For information about volunteering at gardens in Cincinnati and Dayton, call 866-389-5653 toll-free or email ohvolunteers@aarp.org.

Phyllis Codling McLaughlin is a writer in Milton, Ky.

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