In the midst of 9,360 square feet of flowers, vegetables and herbs, The Holmstad, a faith-based, nonprofit continuing care retirement community administered by Covenant Retirement Communities, recently dedicated a new garden pavilion.
The 20- by 14-foot structure will be a permanent destination for those who want to enjoy the ever-changing beauty of nature.
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The 26 Holmstad residents who raise flowers, herbs and veggies in the garden are delighted that the pavilion will be a destination from which anyone can visually enjoy the fruits of their labor.
"There are well-documented therapeutic benefits to being in a garden," explains Clarice Schultz, Holmstad resident and manager of the retirement community's therapeutic garden. "Gardens evoke peace, mental stimulation, memories, beauty. We need those things for life."
An avid gardener, nurse and registered bereavement counselor, Schultz led The Holmstad gardening group in creating a therapeutic garden that meets the standards of the Joint Commission, the organization that accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. She points out that the location of the pavilion fulfills a requirement.
"One requirement is to have enticements to get people to the far end of the garden," she notes. "We put the pavilion there so it would be a destination -- a place people could come to and sit and enjoy the beauty around them."
The garden, Schultz is quick to point out, is especially important for guests. "Sometimes when people come to visit, they sit in the same room or two. They tend to talk about the same stories. After a while they need stimuli. That is the whole purpose of the therapeutic garden -- to create stimuli. It's alive. If they go to the garden, it changes every week. There's always something new. That can really make a visit more interesting."
"The garden is 100 percent resident driven," says Holmstad Executive Director Josh Anderson. "We were delighted to add the pavilion because it reflects all four of the tenets of our organizational We Believe platform -- congeniality, hospitality, individuality and spirituality. From the pavilion, residents, staff members and guests can all enjoy the peaceful and serene garden the residents create."
Residents keep a journal in the pavilion so visitors can record their thoughts, meditations or reactions to the garden.
In addition to the 2,160 square feet devoted exclusively to flowers, the garden includes plots where Holmstad gardeners can grow herbs and vegetables. They typically have a bountiful harvest. Not only do they raise enough to use personally, the gardeners donate their produce to The Holmstad so the entire community can enjoy farm-to-table dining. They also donate to the Batavia Food Pantry and sell their bounty to The Holmstad residents and others on Tuesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. during harvest season.
The Holmstad is a faith-based, nonprofit continuing care retirement community located at 700 W. Fabyan Parkway, Batavia. It is administered by Covenant Retirement Communities, which is a ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church and one of the nation's largest nonprofit senior services organizations. For more information on The Holmstad, call (630) 870-4100 or visit www.TheHolmstad.org.