Olmstead’s Bounty

Residents at the Olmstead Rd. facility are giving back again this summer by planting a garden full of fruits, vegetables and flowers. This is not the first summer residents have worked on the project – it has been a staple of the Olmstead Rd. facility for years.

Program Manager April Nachtigal explains that the goal of the garden is for residents to give back to the community. “Growing food and beautifying the area are simple and meaningful ways for our residents to give back to our neighbors and community organizations,” she said.

The residents were extremely motivated to complete the project, consistently working outdoors in shifts to get the soil prepped and ready for planting.  Some of the residents involved in this project had taken a horticulture class, and their extensive knowledge of the subject came in handy when faced with an animal problem.  These residents offered many suggestions to resolve the issue and ultimately decided to plant perennials around the perimeter of the garden.  The flower ‘fence’ kept the animals at bay, plus, it added to the beauty of the garden and the entire area.

Residents planted a variety of plants and seeds including acorn squash, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon, green pepper, jalapenos, and banana peppers. They tend the garden daily, sometimes weeding and watering twice a day, depending on the growth and weather.

Residents were able to gather their first bounty a few weeks ago. The harvest included zucchini and squash and was all donated to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.  The Gospel Mission will utilize the fresh vegetables to supplement their various meal offerings.

The Olmstead garden has helped boost residents’ self respect because they know that their hard work is helping fellow community members in need.  The staff and residents at Olmstead look forward to several more successful harvests this year and plan to continue donating all of the vegetables to Kalamazoo Gospel Mission or Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes. Nachtigal looks forward to continuing this project next year and hopes to be able to share the produce with other organizations as well.