Published on October 23, 2017

Sowing seeds of joy

Mercy LIFE participants get back in touch with the soil

seniors gardeningInner-city West Philadelphia might not seem like the best spot to put a vegetable patch. But that didn’t stop Ed Kratowicz, Center Director at the Mercy LIFE – West Philadelphia Day Center, from planting one there for all to enjoy.

“There’s an interest in gardening here,” Ed says. “It’s very therapeutic for the participants.”

In April, he and the staff decided to put in a garden next to a patio. That’s where participants often go to sit and relax in the open air. By late summer the garden had flourished with cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers and tomato plants.

Ed was amazed the plants did so well in this urban setting.

“I was surprised by the quality of the soil,” he says. “We’re right off of Chestnut Street next to all of the traffic.”

A peaceful space

The garden was a nice addition to the Day Center. It made the patio more inviting. As a result, participants enjoyed the area more. They also got involved with the project. For instance, garden club members helped start tomatoes from tiny seeds. And they shared the knowledge they learned about gardening over the years.

“I think a lot of our participants were more involved with gardening when they were younger,” Ed says.

When it came time to harvest, participants got to taste the rewards. For instance, they made refreshing salads and cucumber water.

“There were only four cucumber plants,” Ed says. “But they were able to pick close to 30 nice-sized cucumbers from that little patch.”