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Senior Living: getting the gardens ready to grow

ACES Academy student Marissa Pohl spreads soil in one of the four Alpena Senior Center gardens.

Alpena, Mich. — Gardens are springing up all across the Sunrise Side, and one of those gardens is vital to the Alpena senior community.

Over the past two days, volunteers, employees, and ACES Academy students have put in the dirty work to prepare four different gardens.

Gardner Liz Cavanaugh has watched the program grow over the past three years, and it’s not just the size of the gardens. They’ve diversified their produce to potatoes, tomatoes, onions, raspberries, zucchini, and much more. In the past years, they only grew lettuce. All of the new produce will soon be available for seniors through the ‘Meals on Wheels’ program and at the cafe.

“We try to feed our seniors healthy food,” said Cavanaugh. “We try to make sure they’re getting the stuff that they need and having it available.”

Cavanaugh had an extra set of hands to help out. Students from ACES Academy who participate in Project Student Entrepreneur, a program that teaches high school kids practical trade work and take on their own projects, laid mulch and soil in hopes of a good harvest.

“We’ll grow it here, and then, it’s a lot cheaper, saves money, and gives back to the seniors who can’t afford it,” said ACES Academy student MacKenzie Tolan.

Soon folks at the Alpena Senior Center will be able to consume food grown right outside their door.

“To look at it now, it’s just fun to look out that window and go, “oh yeah, it’s coming,” said Cavanaugh.