Oregon State University

Extension Master Gardener helps neighbors access produce, much more

Photo by Raymond Rendleman, Portland Tribune

Senior citizens of the Gladstone Mobile Home Park are helping neighbors access fresh produce with their construction of two large greenhouses and garden plots. Arnetta Guion, a mobile-home neighbor and certified master gardener through Oregon State University, came up with the idea when the state announced that it would be cutting everyone’s food-stamp benefits by at least $10 a month starting Nov. 1. She is most thankful that the project has helped those who used to enjoy gardening but may be unable to be as active as they once were. Other residents who have been key in the creation of the garden include Jeannine Shockman, Kim Baller and Tamara Dinsmore. 

Retired landscaper Richard Schooley has lived in the complex since 2004 and has been getting out of his mobile home more frequently in the past six months to help with the project. Schooley, 76, now uses a walker to get around, but he says he most enjoyed harvesting radishes, tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. 

“It’s about hope for them,” Guion said. “We began to help others by giving them some of our produce, but it’s also about helping them feel like they can keep a sense of dignity by helping themselves. ... In these uncertain times with social services being cut back, a person can still do something for their own physical and emotional well-being. And best of all, they will be helped by others in the community.” 

In their first harvest this year, residents of the mobile-home park for people 55 and older grew at least 30 pounds each of cherry tomatoes, peas, beans and peppers. Amounts for cabbage and Brussels sprouts are still being tallied because they were able to harvest these hardy vegetables even during the recent December freeze. 

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