Michelle Obama isn’t the only person thinking about fresh vegetables these days. Evolve student Joann Ellis is too. Last September, she attended an event about helping Hmong immigrants start community gardens. Ellis left the event wondering how she could assist older adults in obtaining fresh vegetables.
Joann works with the block nurse program in northeast Saint Paul and knows first-hand how fresh vegetables enhance the well-being of older adults. Seniors often tell her that they used to garden and enjoyed the opportunity to be outdoors. They also say that they find it difficult to afford fresh vegetables.
For her Evolve project, Joann developed a partnership with Ramsey County Master Gardeners. The project will help seniors in her block nurse program grow vegetables in their own patio gardens. She is excited because the effort will provide benefits beyond nutrition, giving older adults purpose and a reason to be active outdoors. The program brings another person from the community into the older adult’s life and reduces his or her isolation, a great benefit.
“Evolve has offered a chance for me to push myself a little bit, network with other people my age, and make a positive impact on the community and the elderly,” says Joann. The program gives seniors the opportunity to do some things they enjoy— gardening and being outside. She will implement her program this summer with six to eight older adults who she will match with Master Gardeners.