Tribune Print Share Text

Blooming loving care

Maris Grove gardeners gear up for growing season

Created date

April 23rd, 2013

What made Hal and Jo Roedel s move from Aldan, Pa., to Maris Grove, Erickson Living s community in Delaware County, an easy transition? Learning Hal could have his own 10- by 10-foot garden space. That was 2006. The community had just opened, and a 36-space garden area had been designated but not diagrammed. So Hal diagrammed it. It s surprising what all you can put into a hundred square feet, he says. The Roedels grow tomatoes and flowers, with Hal tending the tomatoes.

Friendly rivalry

Gardening is a popular activity among lots of Maris Grove s male residents, says Jo. Many of them grow their tomatoes in a certain way and lay out their gardens in a certain way. And they engage in friendly rivalry about their yields. I always get 50 tomatoes per plant, says Hal. Multiplied by even a small number of plants, that s a lot of tomatoes! What does he do with them? What all gardeners do: We share with our neighbors, says Jo. When resident and Master Gardener Helene Maculaitis s iris bulbs need dividing, she transplants her Japanese, Siberian, and Louisiana varieties at the edge of Maris Grove s pond because they don t mind getting wet. She transplants her wild and German bearded varieties away from the water. The community has grown since 2006, and as more folks with green thumbs took up residence, the gardens expanded to 96 spaces in two separate areas. With so many spaces producing robust crops and beautiful flowers, the gardens have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. So, besides co-chairing the garden club, the Roedels serve as unofficial garden police. They encourage lot owners to keep their spaces well-maintained during growing season and clean them up in the fall.

Organic offshoots

Through the years, the gardens have evolved to produce interesting and benevolent offshoots. In 2007, club members Toni and John Kaufman started what s become an annual first Sunday in August event called Souper Sunday. Each year, they collect donated vegetables from club members gardens, fill in as needed with produce from local farmers markets, and let Maris Grove chefs simmer everything together for delicious soup. On Souper Sunday, residents pick up orders of soup, jumbo chocolate chip cookies, and bread donated by Panera Bread. Proceeds benefit Maris Grove s Resident Care Fund. Maris Grove is a not-for-profit community whose Home for Life Commitment is dedicated to supporting residents who experience an unforeseen change in their financial situation for reasons beyond their control. See the Residence and Care Agreement for complete details. In 2008, the Kaufmans started Country Market, held on Fridays in August. Produce, flowers, and homemade baked goods vie for residents dollars. This February, Toni launched Zucchini Bread on Demand. Baking 14 loaves at a time, she filled 125 orders and collected $500. From 2007 through February 2013, these three creative garden offshoots brought in $15,775, all for the Resident Care Fund.