Before Rippling Waters Organic Farm planted a garden at Stonecrest Housing Center in Standish, the only vegetables Louise Hunt, 86, ate were from a can.

Click here for an audio slideshow of the event.

On May 22, Hunt helped Christy McKinnon and Emma Zavez from Rippling Waters, as well as several local volunteers, put in a vegetable garden at Stonecrest for the second year in a row. Six raised beds dot the grass between apartments. They are around three feet high so residents can sit next to them and reach the plants.

Hunt, who said she had never gardened before, maneuvered her wheelchair through the wet grass to sit next to one of the raised beds and plant broccoli, cabbage, leeks, peas and other produce. “I like it, as long as you know it’s going to bring food,” Hunt said. “It helps on my budget. It tastes so much better too.”

Living alone, Hunt said she doesn’t typically cook much, but she enjoyed the fresh produce from the garden Rippling Waters planted last year, especially the green beans and the tomatoes.

Stonecrest is a Avesta housing community subsidized for elderly or disabled residents. Twelve people live in one-bedroom apartments. Hunt said most of them are about her age. Avesta housing is a nonprofit housing agency that rents 1,200 units in York and Cumberland counties, 70 to 80 percent of these to the elderly or disabled.

McKinnon, community programs and volunteer coordinator for the Steep Falls farm, said the benefits of the project are multi-faceted. “It’s to provide low income seniors with nutritious food to eat during the harvest season. But it’s also become more of a community-oriented program,” McKinnon said. “We come here and we get to know them and we bring volunteers and they start building relationships.”

Throughout the season volunteers will return to Stonecrest to water, weed, and harvest the vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Residents receive the harvest for free. Rippling Waters staff also organizes classes on nutrition and a harvest dinner. McKinnon said that all the Stonecrest residents attended last year’s harvest dinner.

This is one of many community projects Rippling Waters is taking on this year. In October the nonprofit farm received a three-year grant for more than $240,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program.

Richard Rudolph, executive director of Rippling Waters, said the grant will help fund school garden projects at George E. Jack and Steep Falls elementary schools, a greenhouse at Bonny Eagle Middle School, and a high school summer apprenticeship program at the farm in Standish. Additionally, the farm plans to donate 25,000 pounds of produce to food pantries.

“Part of our mission is to try to reconnect people to the land, to their food, and to the people who grow their food,” Rudolph said.

and Emma Zavez of rippling Waters Farm in Steep Falls plant an herb and vegetable garden at Stonecrest Housing in Standish May 22. The harvest will provide food for the residents of the community and is one of many gardensfarm workers have planted at schools and housing communities.

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