Skip Navigation

Back to all resources

Photo: Growing Seeds, Tending Hearts (2019)

By Christine Engels

In Michigan, Lake County has 18% of its residents reporting food insecurity. Grand Oaks Nursing Center, MSU Extension, and the Lake County Community Food Council had a shared vision of creating garden beds for Grand Oaks residents and staff. Four community beds and three wheelchair accessible beds were installed in the facility’s patio area. The administration explored best food safety practices for preparing the produce and received approval to be able to offer ‘garden to table’ experiences for these seniors. Even though residents don’t get to ‘choose’ their meals, these gardens evoked positive memories of gardening, canning, and family meals. Glen, a Grand Oaks resident, spent time daily watering and weeding the plants. He asked staff to prepare fresh salads made from the tomatoes and greens that he helped grow. He shared how much he loved the garden and that it gave him something to look forward to. Looking back, our original goal was food security, but this project has also reminded us about the emotional health benefits of growing a garden. British biographer, Jenny Uglow, reminds us that “we may think we are nurturing the garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us”. By downloading this image, you agree to use the photo within the context that it was taken. You also agree to never use it for commercial purposes. The image always belongs to the original photographer and should be attributed to the photographer and Center for a Livable Future Food Policy Networks Photo Contest. Image credit: Christine Engels; CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2019