By Shannon Powers-Jones
Aldersgate United Methodist Retirement Community, and Meck Teen X-Treme Summer Camp (located at Methodist Home Recreation Center, a Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department facility) – both located in the Shamrock area of Charlotte – have partnered to start a new intergenerational garden project at the three-year-old Country Club Estates Community Garden on Dunlavin Way. The program promotes community service and allows for the camp’s 19 teens, ages 11-15, to interact with Aldersgate senior residents during outings to the garden each Tuesday, from June 21 through August 9.
Led weekly by Brian Gardner, Activity Therapist and Volunteer Coordinator for Aldersgate, as well as other community guest speakers, the teens recently learned the fundamentals of gardening hands-on by caring for a plot of tomato plants originally sowed by students from Garinger High School. The campers have taken ownership of one budding tomato plant each by staking it, regularly weeding the area, putting out mulch and performing other essential gardening tasks. Other plants the students tend in the garden plot include cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and a variety of herbs. Aldersgate senior residents are able to share their gardening and life experiences directly with the summer campers, who often assist Aldersgate residents off their bus, help set up their chairs and offer cold refreshment as well as some welcome companionship.
The garden project is a collaboration of the Mecklenburg County Health Department, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department and Aldersgate. Renfrow Hardware in Matthews and community supporter Michael Smith donated plants and other materials to make the garden project possible.
For more information on this program, please contact: Megan Dean, Registered Dietitian – Mecklenburg County Health Department, at 704-336-5336.