At Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center, the members of the gardening club are enjoying the fruits — and vegetables — of their labor.
This year, they harvested tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, herbs, brussels sprouts, radishes, potatoes, onion, beets and zucchini.
Despite poor planting weather and critters eating the vegetables, Waterford Place participant and gardener Julie Gilbert says, “The garden turned out pretty well, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Stormy weather in the spring forced them to cancel several preparation and planting meetings, giving their growing season a late start.
“The weather was not conducive to planting,” recalls Cheri Tuymer, a Waterford Place participant and gardener.
“The weather was horrible!” Julie agrees.
But the small group — Julie, Cheri and participant Mary Peach — persevered, planting the garden in raised beds donated several years ago. They were excited to see what would grow.
Because the group was small, Mary recruited her husband, Les, to help, especially with tasks that required more strength than she had. He helped plant, weed and water.
The group divided up watering duties so they each were responsible for one watering a week. Once or twice a month, they all got together, including for a garden party — a dinner that featured vegetables grown in their garden.
“We took the peppers, squash, herbs and lettuce, and each of us made a dish,” Mary explained. They enjoyed quinoa salad and lettuce salad, and Julie made omelets with the peppers. Les made fried peppers.
“It was wonderful,” says Cheri. In addition to the gardening club, she participates in a variety of other activities, from the Giving Back Society to the Gyne SISTERs support group to art and exercise classes. “I love Waterford Place,” she says. “It’s my second home.”
Mary has been a participant at the center since 2016, but this was her first experience in the gardening club. While many of the programs she has participated in have been helpful to her, she felt this was a chance to give to others since the vegetables are shared with other participants.
“It is an opportunity for other participants to enjoy the fruits of our labor,” she says.
It also allowed her to get to know some participants she hadn’t met previously.
But for Julie, the gardening itself may have been the biggest draw.
“There’s such a healing about planting and watching things grow,” she says. “Gardening teaches you to be calm and patient. It calmed my spirit and helped me feel closer to creation. It’s a wonderful experience.”