Griswell seniors plant seeds for healthier living

The seniors at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center, in Jonesboro, planted the first seeds of their fall garden, on Friday.

"[The] garden is a great way to get seniors involved," said Winston Eason, agriculture and natural resources agent for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service in Clayton County.

The garden will include turnips, collard greens, carrots, and spinach, among other fruits and vegetables.

Eason said the community garden gives senior citizens access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and allows them to be active as well. He was present at the event to give horticulture and nutrition tips to the participants.

The planting project is the result of a partnership among Clayton County Senior Services, Parks and Recreation, and the Clayton County Extension Service. It is an effort to extend the health- and-wellness initiative created by the Atlanta Regional Commission, according to Mary Byrd, director of Clayton County Senior Services. "Our main goal of this year is to focus more on healthy aging," she said.

Byrd said the community garden at Griswell will be a model for future gardens at the Frank Bailey Senior Center, in Riverdale, and the Shelnutt Inter-Generational Center, in Jonesboro.

Program coordinator for the Griswell Center, Linda McKenzie, said that some seniors are unable to have a garden because of where they live. "The garden will give them an opportunity to get fresh fruits and vegetables," said Mckenzie.

Senior Services, Health and Wellness Director Elaine Jackson said that "community gardens are becoming more popular now, especially in urban areas. She added, "The garden is a place to socialize, and an excellent place for exercise."

The Griswell gardeners planted seeds in the spring, but decided to improve the experience by raising the garden beds to a higher level . "The Parks and Recreation [department] helped the staff at Griswell, build the beds," said Tori Strawter, senior services assistant director.

Jonesboro resident, Patricia Ricketts, 58, said she was glad that the beds were raised, because she is in a wheelchair, and now, she is able to access them.

Elaine Jackson said the seeds should begin to show growth in about 30 days. "The vegetables will be ready for Thanksgiving dinner."

The J. Charley Griswell Senior Center is on Highway 138 E., in Jonesboro.