raised planters

LaDonna Wilbur and Philip Ross look for tomatoes Wednesday in one of the raised beds at ParkView Senior Apartment Homes in Savoy.

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CHAMPAIGN — Four years after LaDonna Wilbur moved into a senior apartment complex in Savoy, she’s enjoying the chance to garden again — this time with her neighbors.

When she had a home of her own, she did a lot of gardening in her own yard, she recalled.

Now, thanks to 16 raised garden beds added at Parkview Senior Apartment Homes, she’s helping neighbors garden from their wheelchairs.

She’s also carting water to the raised garden beds and seeing fellow residents enjoy planting, weeding and watering after the pandemic kept so many folks isolated and indoors.

“It’s so nice for people to be able to do this,” she said.

The raised garden beds have been added courtesy of OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center’s Faith in Action program.

In addition to building and preparing the garden beds, Faith in Action provided all the supplies and vegetables and flowers to plant.

It’s a way for residents to get out in the fresh air and socialize, grow some of their food and get some exercise, according to Nicole Dowling, senior service coordinator at Heart of Mary.

The raised beds are in different locations so all residents have access, she said. And they’re high enough for people in wheelchairs to participate from a seated position, she said.

The raised garden beds are a pilot project for Faith in Action, Dowling said, but the hope is to extend it to other senior living places in the future.

Parkview resident Pat Compton said she and her husband have planted tomatoes, green peppers, sage and eggplant in a raised bed. Formerly a gardener before moving into the apartment, she said, she loves it — and so does her husband.

Wilbur said the vegetables being grown will be shared among Parkview residents.

“There are residents that are just so happy about this,” she said. “It’s been amazing.”

Faith in Action volunteers provide outreach to adults 55 and older in Champaign County. Volunteers provide such assistance as help with shopping and errands, seasonal projects, educational events and home and telephone visits.

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