We’ve been noticing the trend for a while now, but it was confirmed to us during the inaugural year (2017) of the AARP Community Challenge, our “quick action” grant program (see page 128). So many of the applicants were seeking funds for creating raised-bed gardens.
As cleverly stated by the editors of Popular Mechanics, “raised garden beds take the hassle out of horticulture.” By raising the soil level off the ground, such gardening structures “reduce the back-bending effort needed for jobs such as planting, weeding and harvesting.”
Among the raised-bed-seeking applicants AARP did assist were those from the Broad Street Community Garden in Hartford, Connecticut, and the town of Bowdoinham, Maine.
In Connecticut, staff and volunteers from a nonprofit called Knox built raised garden beds that children, people with disabilities and older adults can access while sitting or standing.
In Maine, the municipal government was able to provide elevated garden beds, complete with soil, to six residents in Bowdoinham, Richmond and Bowdoin who, because of disabilities, could not maintain ground-level gardens.
The need for the garden beds became apparent during a 2016 community survey, explains Patricia Oh, an AARP consultant and the former adult services coordinator for Bowdoinham.
“We learned that many people give up gardening because they have a physical disability that prevents them from keeping a traditional, on-the-ground garden,” says Oh. “In our community, gardening is more than a hobby. Gardening indicates that a person is productive, self-sufficient and capable of continuing desired pursuits.”
TAKE A LOOK: The placemaking and urban designers of Team Better Block frequently partner with AARP, as they did for a community project in Buffalo, New York, which included building several raised bed gardens (shown above). Learn more about the Fruit Belt neighborhood demonstration by watching this AARP video.
This article is an excerpt from the "Support Health and Wellness" chapter of the AARP book Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Examples From America’s Community Leaders. Download or order your free copy.
Book published June 2018
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