© Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen-Record
River Hebert and Area Garden Club chairman Andrew Hinners and manager Su Morin (right) join River Hebert villa resident Hope Harrison to celebrate the kick-off of the River Hebert Community Gardening project recently.
RIVER HEBERT - Su Morin thought that River Hebert needed a community gardening program, and she knew the perfect spot to kick it off. The program was launched recently at the retirement villa here, with the River Hebert and Area Garden Club joining with residents at the facility to create the project. Local students have also visited the garden and taken an interest in it. "The garden club wanted to get a community garden going somewhere in town, and we just thought this would be a good place to start," said club manager Su Morin. "They are kind of set up here, with water taps all around, a storage shed, and there are willing people who are interested in gardening." She presented the idea to Hope Harrison, one of the facility's residents, and received a positive response, with Harrison becoming actively involved in seeing the project through. "I think it's a terrific idea," she said. "My hope was to involve more people, and I find there's been gradually more interest." Originally conceived as an incentive project for seniors, the new garden includes five large planter boxes located around the facility, as well as about a dozen pots. In each are a variety of food plants and flowers. Some wanted to plant flowers and others wanted to plant vegetables, according to Harrison, who said the result was a mixture in the boxes, with each one carefully planned by Morin. One box has cucumbers, tomatoes and marigolds, while another has morning glories and lettuce. While the local students were planned to be a part of the planting, that plan was spoiled by successive rainy days when they were scheduled to visit. Instead, they visited to see the planting work that was done, and may come back to help with weeding and maintenance. The club hopes to expand on the project next year, which will include participation from more community volunteers, according to Morin. "We'll have more of these big planter boxes next year, which are great for seniors because they don't have to bend and get up and down off the ground," she said. "But we also want to do some in-ground planting next year, because you can't grow everything in a planter box. Things like corn and squash need to be grown in the ground." With seniors living on fixed incomes, being able to save a little money by growing their own food is one benefit of the project, Morin explained, but she said it also provides good exercise and a nice outdoor social activity. It is also a perfect fit with the garden club's mandate, according to chairman Andrew Hinners. "Community gardens are a great tool for bringing our community closer together, to promote healthy living and eating and an active lifestyle," said Hinners. "Community gardening also encourages cross-generational co-operation, and can transform otherwise unused areas into spaces where people can come together to grow their own fresh food."