Hampton nursing home's new greenhouse lets seniors garden year-round

Hampton nursing home's new greenhouse lets seniors garden year-round

For 90-year-old Theresa Killen, gardening offers an escape from her everyday life.

That's why she's glad she'll soon be able to do it year-round.

The Dr. V.A. Snow Centre, where Killen lives, is opening a greenhouse on Friday so seniors can enjoy gardening even in the cooler months.

"I hope to plant some tomatoes next year," Killen said. "That's my big thing, tomatoes."

The nursing home in the southern New Brunswick town of Hampton already has lots of gardening options for its residents, but with Maritime weather, they're usually just available a couple of months each year.

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Killen said working and relaxing in the garden gives her new life.

"I have a lot of pain, and it's almost constant," she said. "And when I get into here … I just feel something up there taking a load off my shoulders." 

'It just expands their life'

At the new greenhouse, which has been named "the Garden Room," residents will be able to grow more than 3,800 annuals and perennials within the transparent walls.

Gina McLeod, a volunteer and former employee at the nursing home, said the greenhouse is "the final stage" of what the home has been doing to introduce gardening into the lives of the residents.

"I've seen residents looking out windows at not a lot some days," said McLeod, who's been gardening at the home for almost 20 years.

"We wanted to have a garden outside every bedroom, so every room would look out on a garden. And I think that is the right of each of our residents."

The Garden Room has been made possible through a number of grants. After the money came in, the new greenhouse was in the works for about a year.

McLeod said residents seem "pretty excited" about the new project and are anxious to begin using it.

"It just expands their life, it just makes their world so much bigger when they can come out to a garden room," she said.

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Her husband, Harvey, a fellow volunteer who helped her spearhead the project, said it's good to give the residents something to work on — and then be able to admire the fruits of their labour.

"We want them to see something green, we want them to see something beautiful. We want them to be able to do it every day," he said.

"We want them to be able to tend to plants themselves in the way that they once tended their families. And we want them to live better lives."

Harvey added that he was excited for Friday.

"I'm looking forward to the smiles on the faces of the residents," he said.

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Jean Foster, who frequently visits her husband at the facility, said the greenhouse also has benefits for the families of the residents as well.

She said the Garden Room will offer her and her husband a new space to spend time together.

"The more you can expand your horizons — the horizons are very limited in a nursing home — so if you can get out and have another environment, it just is a little bit uplifting, a little bit different," she said.

"Another place to visit to get out of the brick walls."

Graham Thompson/CBC

Killen, who's lived at the centre for a number of years, has been anticipating the opening of the greenhouse for a while. 

She said she's excited to see what will come from the Garden Room — especially after being able to try the fresh veggies grown from the outside gardens already surrounding the facility.

"I think this would be great for that. Not just my tomatoes."