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Georgia

Mableton Loves Local Produce

Carpool program helps residents visit farmers market and maintain a community garden

Getting involved with Parkland Manor and the Mableton farmers market are among the ways AARP Georgia is working to make Mableton an inviting place for older people, said Janie Walker, AARP Georgia associate state director for outreach.

Designated a Lifelong Community by the Atlanta Regional Commission, Mableton is becoming a center of activity for older people.

See also: Pilot program in Georgia aims to cut state's hospital readmission rate.

Community gardens

AARP volunteers also maintain two community garden plots, including one at the historic garden site at Floyd Road. Last year, more than 425 pounds of fresh produce were harvested from the Floyd Road plot and donated to the Christian Aid Mission Partnership's food pantry in Austell.

Philippa Monthrope, who has lived in Mableton for the past eight years and is the board chair and garden leader of the Mableton Improvement Coalition, said the gardens have become a community of their own.

"We have people from … south Cobb [County] with plots that they rent, and they really bring together people of all cultures, growing beans, squash, watermelon, you name it," she said.

One of those who benefits from this sense of community is Venderay Miller, 63, a retiree and a first-time gardener who has lived in the area for five years.

"I live in a townhouse, and the trees there don't allow my plants to get enough sunlight," she said. "So I put in an application to have a plot, and now I'm growing okra, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs. It's good for exercise and to see other people to interact with," Miller said. "If I had to depend on my gardening skills, I'd be in trouble. But I'm aspiring to be a good gardener."

Cobb County master gardeners provide gardening advice. Annual plot rentals from the Mableton Improvement Coalition range from $15 to $50, depending upon plot size. Revenues are used for garden events and improvements.

Bill Sanders is a freelance writer living in Acworth, Ga.

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James Brown talks to Hollygrove residents about the rewards and challenges of community gardening in New Orleans. 

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