A new community garden marketed to senior citizens 60 and older will open to the public next month at the Cherokee County Senior Services senior center in Canton.
The Cherokee County Senior Services Community Garden, located behind the center on Univeter Road, will have as many as 30 plots, said Nathan Brandon, director of senior services.
Each plot will be 4 by 10 feet. Residents will pay $20 each year to rent a plot, which would cover garden expenses and provide access to garden tools and water. Residents would have to abide by restrictions on what they can grow and the use of chemicals would be restricted to certain areas of the garden.
Plots are available to residents of all ages, but priority will be given to seniors 60 and older.
Brandon said the first planting of the garden will take place on Labor Day weekend, and he's optimistic about interest in it.
He said he's heard positive reviews from the City of Woodstock staff about its community garden.
"I was impressed with the social interaction that takes place," he said of the Woodstock garden.
Woodstock earlier this year opened its community garden along Dobbs Road in downtown. The Heron Square Community Garden on East Marietta Street in downtown Canton is in its fifth season of sprouting veggies and flowers.
The idea for a garden for seniors stems from the Senior Community Gardens Initiative spearheaded by the Atlanta Regional Commission, said Mary Blumberg, the coordinator of the initiative.
ARC's Aging Services Division received a $65,000 grant from the Kaiser Family Foundation to establish 10 gardens throughout the metro Atlanta area, Ms. Blumberg said.
Each entity with a garden receives a one-time grant of $1,000 for supplies to build the garden, nutrition, hands-on assistance from local county extension offices and cooking demonstrations provided by Open Hand. The Atlanta-based organization provides meals and nutrition education to less fortunate residents.
"It will give seniors the opportunity to socialize, exercise and to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables," Ms. Blumberg said of the garden.
The Cherokee County Master Gardeners have been active in helping establish the garden, said Paul Pugliese, Cherokee County cooperative extension agent. The gardening group already maintains a demonstration garden at the center and involves seniors in annual events such as the tomato taste test.
Pugliese added the garden is ideal for seniors who may have covenants on their homes that limit yard activity or who may not have ideal areas in their yards for a garden.
Both Pugliese and Brandon said they think the garden will grow in popularity because local control over produce and reducing one's carbon footprint are popular issues.
"A lot of people are interested in community gardens," Pugliese said, noting with the economy, many people are turning to home gardens as another source of food.
Brandon added the garden will help some senior citizens, who have become inactive as they have aged, develop friendships with others and obtain more physical activity.
The supplemental programs that come along with the initiative additionally would provide seniors a way to make healthy, nutritious meals with their veggies.
"It's part of the overall effort to help them lead a quality life," he said.