HARDINSBURG, Ky. (Sept. 7, 2018) — An Extension Master Gardener project in Breckinridge County is providing fresh vegetables to those who cannot garden themselves.
Carol Hinton, agriculture and natural resources agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, started the project that places accessible gardening structures in locations for individuals with limited mobility and other disabilities.
“Having ownership of a garden increases people’s well-being, because their attitude is better,” said Hinton, who is an extension agent for the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “They feel some bit of accomplishment that they used to feel when they were home taking care of themselves.”
After completing the Extension Master Gardener program, Hardinsburg residents Stan and Annette Martin took on the project and expanded it. The Martins currently have accessible beds at four locations including a nursing home, a church and two group homes.
For the past two years, the Martins contributed the necessary manpower to start the gardens at each location including installing the beds, adding the soil and planting. They worked with staff at each location to determine the vegetables or flowers that their clients would enjoy the most. The staff water, weed and harvest the gardens. The Martins routinely check on the beds throughout the growing season.
“At every place that we have them, they have liked them,” Annette Martin said. “I think they have been more excited about it this year.”
“We were happy to learn that they were putting in their own plants at two locations,” Stan Martin said. “That’s the kind of buy-in we wanted to have, and for the most part, we have had it.”
For Briana Chism, activity director at the Hardinsburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Extension Master Gardener project was a welcome addition to the facility. Chism tried gardening on her own at the facility with little success but was successful with the extension project, which is now in its second year at the center.
“Breckinridge County is a farming county, and most of our residents have had a farm or lived on a farm or grew up on a farm,” she said. “Anything they used to do that we can bring here to make them feel at home eases their minds and souls.”
It is certainly true for resident James “Mac” McKinley. McKinley, who is 100, farmed for 60 years in Stephensport in the northern part of the county. He spends much of his day watching the garden grow.
“As soon as I eat breakfast, I come out here,” he said.
At St. Romuald Catholic Church, Rosa Hockenberry uses the vegetables from the accessible gardens for her senior day program.
“We’ve actually used some of the vegetables out of here for the senior day meals,” said Hockenberry, the church’s certified religious educator for adults. “When the seniors come along and see something they want, they are welcome to it. If they see that the garden needs tending, they can do that too.”
The Martins said they plan to continue the program as long as the residents enjoy them.
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