Many seniors have fond memories of planting and harvesting gardens to feed their young families. Some included herbs in their spring plantings.
Staff and residents at Showalter Center, the assisted living residence at Warm Hearth Village, have worked to construct and plant herb gardens. The gardens contain a variety of herbs in raised beds that are harvested by residents and used in preparing meals in the dining room. Nate McCutcheon, Dining Production Manager shares, “I see the residents enjoying the tranquil scenery around the gardens where birds and butterflies frequent. We use the basil we grow in pesto, sage on our pork and chicken, lemon balm in beverages, cilantro for fresh Pico de Gallo and parsley to garnish our plates.”
The benefits of herbs for seniors, especially, is greater because herbs produce flavorful culinary additions which can act as a salt replacement, helping older adults to reduce high blood pressure and minimize the risk for overall heart problems. The mere act of gardening relieves stress for many. “I love putting my hands in the earth. Gardening helps fulfill this need as a fun ‘chore’ that’s neither too demanding nor too passive. It also feels good to be growing the ingredients that all my neighbors will enjoy,” says Elizabeth Myers, a resident of Showalter Center.