ALTON — Senior Services Plus, a nonprofit organization, has received a $10,000 grant from the Mid-America Transplant Services Foundation to expand a community garden.
The Compassionate Growers Program, a partnership between Senior Services Plus and the foundation, will provide the community with fresh produce as well as learning opportunities centered around organic growing techniques.
Senior Services Plus plans to expand its current garden, which includes 13 raised container garden boxes, by adding 15 more raised container boxes and a greenhouse. The greenhouse will be equipped with a heating and ventilation system as well as a hydroponic system.
The produce is distributed to seniors through the Meals On Wheels program and Congregate Dining Facilities. With the addition of the greenhouse, Senior Services Plus will be able to provide fresh produce all year long.
“Increasing access to fresh vegetables locally grown will have a positive impact on seniors health,” Executive Director John Becker said.
In order to offset cuts for the Meals On Wheels program, Senior Services Plus plans to sell a portion of their produce to Grassroots Grocery, a nonprofit food cooperative in Alton.
“One unique aspect of the Compassionate Growers program will be the use of Hügelkultur, which is a composting process that uses decaying wood and other plant materials,” said Kelly Chapman, information and assistance coordinator and Senior Services Plus Garden Club volunteer.
Hügelkultur improves soil fertility and water retention, which will improve the quality of the produce and increase the project’s sustainability. Senior Services Plus plans to offer educational opportunities to the public on Hügelkultur and other organic growing techniques through a partnership with the Sierra Club. Senior Services Plus is seeking volunteers for the project.
For information, contact Senior Services Plus at (618) 465-3298, ext. 115.