Gardening is a multi-body exercise program that includes aerobics, muscle strengthening and balanced training, and takes into account weekly exercise tips. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control. Gardens also produce food, promote socialization, and promote mental health. All of that – and the flowers – are taking place in the community garden at the Woodside Campus on the Island Elderly Home (IHH) in Oak Bluefs.
In the Woodside Community Garden, there are 26 senior beds suitable for each gardener to grow their own crops. A bouquet of flowers is held in the center of the garden, where all are encouraged to pick flowers. Common beds of strawberries and asparagus line the edge of the garden. Roses, blackberries, and vineyards climb the 10-foot fence, originally built to protect the herd from deer herds. Outside the fence, trees donated by IEH tenants, George Silaslassi, tasted the landscape, bearing fruit for all to choose from.
None of this happened overnight, but it was the result of decades of volunteerism and generosity by IHH residents and staff as well as the larger island community. Each generation of IEH gardeners leaves some trails in the garden.
The garden started small – very small, with only a few land plans – and with the origins of the garden, Doris Gaffney, a woman of great energy and determination. According to gardener Lynn Torp, “she started high school with a desire to build a fence, a closet and a toolbox in the garden.” “Doris drove all the way to the island and made donations to the garden. People loved the community’s desire to build a garden… and like the singers, they gave and gave everything they felt was important to the garden orchestra. When Doris was not creating the community garden, she volunteered to distribute letters in Windemere and was seen eating lunch every day at the MV Hospital Cafe for her morning work.
When Doris herself moved to Windemere, IEH residents Lynn and Bill Torp entered. Bill built high beds, and Lynn began to build gravel paths to make the garden safer. Lynn did a great job of collecting pebbles and throwing a canvas bed. Bill brought to the garden some difficult gardening experience, and the knowledge he shared with inexperienced gardeners. Bill grew up on a farm in western Nebraska, his grandfather’s land, where he watered an acre of farmland every year, where horses were plowed and windmills were used.
Phyllis Dunn now serves as a garden coordinator. Professionally, a photographer assigns garden beds and homework, and everything that is needed to improve the garden is “scary”. Under her leadership, a truck loaded with Manoni and Dononaroma landed. Plants and garden equipment were collected, along with community volunteers and IEH staff. Cape Code was forced to donate time and money to five staff and gardening over the weekend. Boy Scouts soldiers and students are regular gardening volunteers. Miller Lands donated farming, and IEH board members Coal Forces rebuilt fences, gates, and posts.
One of the most enthusiastic gardeners in Woodside is the sculptor Tanya Augustine in the Ica list. She found the garden “a place of healing.” Growing up in your two high beds is a “special mix, salad for Gilliolas.” And she is a jelly maker, recently brewing grapes from Woodside.
Maureen Mullen came to Woodside Garden four years ago with a master’s certificate from the Chicago Botanical Garden. Strictly horticulturist, Maureen raises the Russian sage, Veronica (Speedwell) and Litris for “artistic expression.” She also grows a sweet and fragrant little cat cat, but for Woods cats, it is a very special treat. Maureen says she comes to the garden, and caring for the plants gives her a sense of humor.
Contributing to IEH Carroll Lashnitts is an island tradition that has been around for half a century until it successfully hit the vineyards on the ground to build its dream of renting a house for low-income seniors. Eleven buildings with 160 apartments went upstairs, Carol helped IEH, and Margaret Love donated her beach house today in Vine Haven, which has five apartments.
Considering today’s land estimates, asking for the same land contribution is now unrealistic. But time, money and gardening will continue to improve the community’s garden. A few of the many contributors are the Martha Vineyard Green House (aka COMSOG), MV Agricultural Association, Permanent Gift, Banker and MV Banks, Bethel Tree Care and Vineyard Origin Center.
Arriving at the garden
Weeds are overgrown with weeds, weeds need attention, new plants and volunteers. Grown beds need to be rehabilitated. Efforts to make the garden accessible to people with disabilities will continue. A secret woman promises plants. An MVGardener handle with anonymous Facebook donation to photographer Paul Dowetti to donate to the recently expanded community garden photo of tomatoes and cucumbers, basil and sunflowers next season. She even volunteered to help plant them.