Garden provides food, pride for Westview residents
As spring brings warmer weather, Al Hall says he is looking forward to planting a vegetable garden for his fellow residents of Westview Manor.
“I feel good,” he said. “All the plants I cultivated last year did well. I was proud that everyone had something to eat.”
The garden is also beneficial for Westview residents because it gets them out, maintenance worker Matt Litton said.
“It gets the residents outside as an extra activity to do,” he said. “Some of them have done it as a hobby prior to coming here.”
The gardeners are looking for volunteers to help till the garden for spring planting, Litton said.
Corn, okra, tomatoes, and cucumbers have all been popular, Litton said.
Hall, a Texas native, has helped with the garden since arriving three years ago, and said he particularly enjoys the taste of his spicy peppers.
“I especially like the jalapeños that grow on a bush,” he said. “I really like to eat those. I sample my own product.”
Most of the plants from the garden have a season that ends in winter, but Hall managed to maintain his supply of peppers through the cold months.
“I was able to grow it on my windowsill and have jalapeños all winter for free,” he said. “I think they’re very good for my health.”
Despite being invested in the garden, he doesn’t enjoy working with all the plants, Hall said.
“I don’t like the okra,” he said. “It’s harder to pick because of the spines on it. It’s a little harder to harvest, but people really like it.”
Despite the garden’s popularity, choosing what to plant is an important task because the space is limited to 20-by-40-feet, Litton said.
A council of residents makes that decision, Hall said.
“We take turns planting what we want to eat,” he said. “We bring the plants to the kitchen when they grow up, and they’re served to us, cooked and ready to go.”
Garden maintenance is simple because it requires about 20 minutes per week, and the work is divided between 10 to 15 interested residents, Hall said.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie too,” he said. “We all go out there and have a good time.”
The garden’s importance extends beyond the food. It also a place for residents to continue an activity they may have enjoyed before Westview, Litton said.
“Our ultimate goal is to get residents back into society,” he said. “It’s part of what they did before they came to the nursing home, and a lot of them want to continue after they leave.”