In late April 2013, during a Medical Fitness Center meeting, an idea for a planting seminar sprouted. From there, Altru’s Medical Fitness Center Accessible Gardens were born.
After recruiting participants, researching garden safety seminars and gathering the necessities, the digging began! That first year, the garden was off to a rocky start with a cold and rainy May. Finally, one dreary morning in June, the garden crew decided it was time to plant, rain or shine. Wildflowers were the first to be planted, and shortly after our garden members lucked out with enough nice weather to get the remainder of the vegetables and herbs planted.
After some initial uncertainty regarding how well plants would grow in the large cement planters, our garden group was pleased to see their gardens flourish. The gardens have continued to grow in abundance in the years since, with crops including tomatoes, beans, kale, corn, brussels sprouts and herbs in the rotation.
A unique feature to our gardens is they are planted in several raised planters just outside the Altru Rehabilitation Center. This allows persons who have difficulty bending down or being on their knees to participate without restriction. Garden group members help plant, water and tend to the garden throughout the year, and they bring home the fresh produce in the fall. Throughout the growing season members have opportunities to participate in cooking demonstrations featuring refreshing ways to prepare and serve garden produce.
Why garden? Gardening is a healthy hobby. It’s good for your mind, body and belly.
Physical Activity: Digging, planting and weeding require strength and stretching, which makes gardening a wonderful low-impact exercise, especially for individuals who are not able to perform high impact physical activity.
Mental Health: Gardening can ease stress. A study done in the Netherlands found that gardening is a better stress reliever than relaxing leisure-time activities. In a study conducted in Norway, patients who spent six hours a day for three months gardening saw a reduction in their depression symptoms
Nutrition: Having a vegetable garden provides you with the freshest food possible. Gardeners tend to eat more fruits and vegetables than people who don’t garden. Children who participate in after-school gardening activities are usually more likely to try new foods.
These happy gardeners had this to say about their experience:
Interested in signing up for the 2016 Accessible Garden? Beginning May 23, Altru’s Medical Fitness Center will host a season-long gardening seminar. Cost is $25 for members or $35 for non-members. Contact the Medical Fitness Center at 701.780.2516 for more information. Space is limited so sign up early to reserve your spot.