Meadow Lake seniors get gardening

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What was once was barren dirt is now a garden spot a seasoned grower would be proud of.

A healthy harvest of tomatoes, squash, watermelons, green and Thai chiles, cucumbers and green beans is being brought in at the Meadow Lake Senior Center — the literal fruits of the labor of the community's seniors.

Center Director Rita Lucero said she wanted to do something all the seniors who use the center could do together, in a group.

"It started as just a dry piece of dirt," Lucero said. "To participate and share in what we grew, everyone had to bring either plants or seeds for the garden."

And it didn't just have to be veggies — morning glories climb one portion of the chain link fence, while hearty marigolds and zinnias bring bright spots of color to the garden.

Lucero said they have also planted bulbs of all kinds — irises and day lillies — around the perimeter of the garden that will hopefully bloom next season.

Meadow Lake senior citizen Jim Bledsoe has become the head gardener for the little plot, coming in every morning and evening to irrigate the fledgling plants. Now that they are established, Bledsoe says he comes to water every morning.

"It's kind of like group therapy, Bledsoe says with a laugh about working with his fellow seniors on the garden. He said he decided to work on the project because while he likes gardening, he simply doesn't have enough space at his house nor the income to pay a higher water bill to sustain it.

"A lot of them are not able to do something like this on their own," Lucero said. "This way, they all help with the planting, harvesting and share the food."

She said about twice a week, the seniors at the center enjoy fresh vegetables from the garden. Beldsoe said Lucero makes a great cucumber salad.

Lucero said she would like to see participation in the garden continue and grow, but says that might be difficult.

"A lot of people don't know the senior center is here," she said. "Well, we're here and there is a lot of stuff to do. We have the television room, ping pong table, shuffle board, games and puzzles."

To help decorate the dining room, Lucero has started laminating the colorful, complicated puzzles the seniors complete and hanging them on the walls.

Bledsoe and fellow senior Bob Gostischa agree there are a lot of activities available at the center.

"But the more people you have, the more things you can do," Gostischa said. "Bingo is kind of hard when you only have one or two people."

The center also offers meals every weekday for the suggested donation of $1 and a cup of coffee is still a dime, if you have it, they say.

For information about the senior center, contact Lucero between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 865-8824.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.