It is amazing how quickly a piece of property can be changed when 25 professional landscapers put their abilities to work.

The Maine Landscape and Nursery Association’s charity project this year was to install an attractive, edible garden at the Morrison Developmental Center in Scarborough. The job was completed in about six hours.

Kevin Kearns, director of the Seedlings Program at Morrison and a past president of MeLNA, said the new garden will have a number of benefits for Morrison, a program that provides assistance to adults with developmental disabilities.

“We are a life-skills enhancement program, providing assistance so people can take care of themselves,” Kearns said. “Our people will have a chance to help grow the food. This food will be used in our kitchen here.

“Since a lot of them live in group homes, and with budget cuts don’t get a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, it will improve their diet. And any excess will be donated to soup kitchens.”

The Oct. 7 project involved clearing away a fairly sparse lawn, planting six fruit trees (two each of peach, pear and apple), about a couple dozen high-bush blueberry bushes, some rhubarb, ornamental grasses and other plants to hide an electrical box, and two raised gardens in addition to a welcome patio on another side of the building.

Amelia Small of Salmon Falls Nursery and Landscaping designed the edible garden.

The raised beds had to be carefully placed and built so the Morrison clients who use wheelchairs could reach in and tend the vegetables, and had to be placed far enough apart so the groundskeepers could mow between them.

“Using the (concrete) blocks slowed us down,” Small said, “but these beds need to stay here a long time, and wood rots.”

The plan had been to build four raised beds, but only two of them were completed. Kearns hopes to get the other two done later on.

Mark Faunce, president of MeLNA, said about 25 to 30 people from about a dozen different companies volunteered their time for the project. All of the materials were donated as well.

In addition to catching up on the latest news with each other, the volunteers traded a few jibes during the course of the day. Although they are all in the same general industry, they have different specialties and work in different areas of the state.

“We really have a very genial organization,” Faunce said. “We’ve always had the spirit of cooperation, especially when it comes to charity work.”

“It really is a good thing,” Kearns said, “with one nonprofit helping another.”

Morrison has been in its new home for only about a year, and Kearns has plans for expanding the gardens. He is thinking about adding raspberries and other perennial food plants on the 7-acre property.

Meanwhile, Kearns and the people in the Seedlings Program continue growing plants for sale in the two Morrison greenhouses. The orchids, poinsettias, geraniums and other plants provide income not only to Morrison but to the clients who work there. The greenhouses are open 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

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