PMG Nominated for United Way’s Caring for Community Award
July 28 @ 8:00 am - August 18 @ 5:00 pm
The Piedmont Master Gardeners have been nominated for the United Way of Greater Charlottesville’s Caring for Community Awards in recognition of our new Therapeutic Horticulture Project and its work with the Jefferson Area Board for Aging. The public will have the opportunity to vote on the nominees from July 28 through August 18, 2021.
Submitted by JABA, the nomination commends PMG volunteers for going “above and beyond” to beautify the garden at the Charlottesville Adult Care Center. Since April, PMG’s Therapeutic Horticulture team has been working with center members to establish a sensory garden at the JABA facility, which provides daycare for older adults and for adults of all ages with disabilities.
Coordinated by Susan Seidler, the PMG volunteers have “faithfully and generously given of their time and talent on a weekly basis, not only working to improve our garden, but also socializing with our members who suffer from disabilities and different forms of dementia,” reads the nomination. “Each week the PMG team arrive enthusiastically with smiles, gloves on and shovels in hand ready to work! … We are so grateful for their expertise, kindness and compassion.”
The PMG team was also praised for providing supplies and special elements for the garden, including hummingbird feeders, garden flags and a handcrafted birdbath, as well as a trellis that will hold a native coral honeysuckle. In addition, JABA’s nomination notes that the Master Gardeners are planning to provide a monthly indoor program featuring horticulture crafts and other activities.
“Through PMG’s encouragement, our members have become more motivated to try something new, or revisit their past interest in gardening,” the nomination adds. “As a result, we have seen an increase in our members enjoying the great outdoors, laughing, reminiscing and getting to know the wonderful PMG volunteers.”
PMG volunteers who have joined Susan in working on the sensory garden so far include Christine Appert, Sheila Balian, Marie Callahan, Fern Campbell, Liz Stoner, Kathy Thomas, Donna Vinal and Nancy Watkins. Several of these volunteers have donated plants. Also, thanks go out to Nancy’s spouse, Kevin, who has helped with the project; to Lilibet and Alan Coe for donating bricks for the garden’s back wall; and to Ruth Iwano for providing a number of Green Elephant items.
In a related development, PMG was recognized in JABA’s July newsletter for our participation in “Greenspace Activities for Seniors,” a collaborative study being conducted by JABA and the University of Virginia School of Architecture’s Center of Design and Health. With funding from the Integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (iTHRIV), JABA and the U.Va. center are looking at whether various nature-based activities—such as walking, planting and citizen science projects—can lead to improvements in emotional, physical and cognitive health in seniors.
As part of the study, U.Va. researcher Chris Neale surveyed and observed a group of volunteers working with Susan Seidler as she led a project in early July to plant flowers in several raised beds at JABA’s main office. In addition to developing a “shopping list” of plants for the project, focusing on sun-loving natives that are mostly drought-tolerant and resistant to deer, rabbits and groundhogs, Susan created a handout with planting instructions and helpful resources, including VCE’s Horticulture Help Desk.
The event gave Susan the opportunity to tell participants about the ecological benefits of planting natives and other horticultural best practices. She also outlined the goals of PMG’s Therapeutic Horticulture Project, which uses hands-on work with plants and engagement with nature to improve the lives of people with a wide range of mental and physical challenges
Photo Credit for featured photo: JABA; Susan Seidler planting at JABA’s main office.