Our mission is to engage senior participants in a variety of pleasurable horticulture-related programs that enhance their mental stimulation, sensory awareness, manual dexterity, and social and physical interaction. As Master Gardeners, we were aware of our inability to satisfy this need and felt a project of this type would be a welcome addition to our county’s activities.
This committee was initiated in February of 2002 by a group of dedicated Master Gardener volunteers who recognized the value of horticultural activities as an enhancement to the lifestyle of our senior citizens in Essex County. We continue today with a group of Master Gardener volunteers, with various backgrounds, who present 10 monthly programs per year from September through June, on a variety of topics. We research topics and provide programs that are educational and sometimes challenging.
Our projects include basic horticultural techniques, such as growing flowers or vegetables from seed, forcing bulbs, making transplants of cuttings, flower arranging, and composting, to advanced educational topics relevant to the seasons, New Jersey and our world. Our programs are attended by approximately 50 senior participants each month. They take a lively interest in discussions and leave with a related project to continue their involvement.
Our Program Goals:
- Encourage independence with step-by-step instruction.
- Promote continued learning to involve the cognitive abilities of the senior population.
- Provide assistance when necessary.
- Emphasize social interaction, sensory stimulation, manual dexterity, self-esteem, and enhanced quality of life.
- Have completed projects and informational handouts for the projects taken home after each session.
The participants come from diverse populations, with a wide range of interests and knowledge. These senior residents live in Essex County, New Jersey. We have also instituted an outreach program that brings our programs to a Senior Citizen center off campus.
The program is free to the senior participants. All expenses are included in the annual Master Gardener budget. These expenses include materials, communication, and marketing. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the Senior Community of Essex County.