By Lisa Carolin
The Intergenerational Garden‘s location, just outside the Washington Street Education Center and near the headquarters of the Chelsea Senior Center, the Chelsea Preschool, and Camp Gabika, is indicative of its mission: To bring kids to see where food comes from, to provide a garden for seniors who can’t have their own garden, and to provide intergenerational activities for 4 year olds to work with 80 year olds.
To hear Jim Randolph, plant manager of the Intergenerational Garden, tell it, the garden has flourished thanks to volunteers and donations. An example is the garden’s shed, for which Chelsea Lumber donated wood, the Lions Club put it together, a 4H group painted it, and an Eagle Scout built a potting bench alongside it.
“I have an email group of about 65 people,” said Randolph. “If I can get five volunteers at a time, it’s a tremendous help.”
The Intergenerational Garden, which is now in its fourth growing season, has received funding from the Chelsea School District and grants from 5 Healthy Towns and the Chelsea Area Garden Club. That includes a grant to hire intern Lindsay Smith this summer for 18 hours a week.
“She mows, weeds, labeled all the plants and made signs for the herb garden,” said Randolph.
The Central Michigan University student is studying botany and communications, which Randolph says is a great fit.
Randolph along with other volunteers teach a class for 5-12 year olds about learning their way around the kitchen, and they use items from the garden to teach them to make healthy foods.
“Our outdoor garden is active from April to October, and we can start planting in our hoop house in February,” said Randolph.
Currently, pole beans, peppers, leeks, beets, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and sunflowers are planted along with chives, thyme, basil, parsley and oregano in the herb garden.
“Every Wednesday we have a farm stand in the Senior Center so that everything in the garden gets used,” said Randolph.
Aside from sharing the hobby of gardening with his wife, Mary Randolph, an active member of the Chelsea Area Garden Club, Randolph says, “The little kids are the whole reason I do this.”