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Mableton Loves Local Produce

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

AARP Bulletin State News GA: Mableton

Eunice Adams received help from AARP Georgia to arrange transportation for Parkland Manor Senior Apartments residents to go to the weekly Mableton Farmers Market. — Photo by Russell Kaye

Eunice Adams, the unofficial coordinator of resident outings at Parkland Senior Apartments, says the Mableton Farmers Market is more than a destination for a weekly trip.

It's a lifeline to the older residents who enjoy both the fellowship and the fresh food the market offers.

See also: AARP working with Macon.

Adams knows the key to making this happen is to coordinate safe and dependable transportation. 

"There are some here who drive," Adams said. "But a lot more like to go and get fresh produce and socialize and have something to look forward to. So I decided to organize a carpool system to make sure everyone who wanted to go knew they had a ride."

Adams said AARP Georgia helped make the carpooling more practical. AARP frequently had sent experts to Parkland Manor to help residents with things such as getting lower car insurance premiums or understanding whether they qualified for food assistance. So no one was surprised when the association offered to help again.

"They provide every driver who carries four or more residents with a $10 gift card, used primarily for gas. And for those who have a van and can carry six people, they get a $20 card," she said.

Usually 20 or 30 Parkland residents go to the market every Thursday morning.

AARP Georgia staff members and volunteers staff a booth at the market each week. They educate shoppers about the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, and tell them about future AARP-sponsored events in Mableton, such as its twice-yearly health clinics based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention screenings, where people can have their blood pressure checked and get flu shots and various screenings.

Next: First-time gardener grows okra, tomatoes and more. » 

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.

Visit the AARP home page every day for tips on keeping healthy and sharp, and great deals.

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