Bath Housing makes nearly 740 square feet of garden space available for resident use. We embarked on our garden expansion in response to requests for more planting opportunities and with a goal of empowering residents to grow, share and enjoy their own sources of healthy food.
The program has grown into much more. Gardening has so many potential benefits for overall health and well-being and many of these benefits are evident as residents take pleasure in investing in their community, engaging in time outdoors, regular physical activity, social connection and harvesting. Some choose to generate multiple seasons of herbs and vegetables while others focus exclusively on joyful and colorful flower gardens. We continue to expand the size and accessibility of our gardens to better meet the needs of our residents, including the addition of raised beds.
We collaborate with multiple community partners who participate in these efforts as well: the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers assist with planting, weeding and garden assistance,
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Food Preservers teach onsite, hands-on classes in a variety of types of food preservation. The Merrymeeting Gleaners deliver generous donations of produce from local farms throughout the year, and we distribute this produce to community kitchens, where residents help themselves. We offer assistance to residents in connecting with Senior FarmShares opportunities as well, which provide access to a variety of local fruits and vegetables. In addition, our local SNAP-Ed instructor presents cooking and nutritional programming. These workshops often involve an opportunity to prepare and enjoy meals together and sometimes include additional food for residents to take home at no cost. The SNAP-Ed instructor is also familiar with the produce available to residents from both their gardens and the gleaning deliveries and regularly encourages utilization during her programs.