Keeping Busy With Gardening: Assisted Living

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senior citizen gardens for leisureJoe Mutinsky beamed with excitement at the thought of having his very own garden once again. Throughout his life, he had always enjoyed gardening and other outdoor activities.

At the tender age of 16, Joe began working for his father’s general contracting company and contributed to many construction projects. He even used his talents to construct a new home for his family.

After being drafted into the Army, Joe became a paramedic for the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic. For over two years, he provided excellent care to veterans. He left the Army as a Corporal.

His return to civilian life included a return to carpentry, but he sought more out of life. Joe gave of his spare time and became a volunteer fireman for the Congress Volunteer Fire Department, located just outside New York City. For over 50 years, he served as a dedicated volunteer for the department.

Joe’s retirement home in Saratoga Springs, FL was the last one he built. In order to get involved in his new community, he joined the Elks Club and played on a local softball team. The remainder of his spare time was spent in the garden. Joe grew banana, grapefruit, and orange trees, as well as peas, cucumbers, and watermelon.

After years in the sunshine state, he began to consider a move to Virginia in order to be closer to his son. They selected Tall Oaks at Reston Assisted Living, and Joe made the move in 2004. However, once his move was complete, Joe quickly grew restless. He assisted the maintenance staff by planting flowers and sewing grass, but these small tasks were not enough. A nice, new garden proved to be the elixir for his boredom.

Once spring arrived, Joe was given quite a surprise. Tall Oaks had set aside a plot of land and all of the supplies he would need to make his dream garden a reality.

Joe immediately began to cultivate the land and prepare it for a variety of fruits and vegetables. Beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cantaloupe, cucumbers, peas, peppers, sweet corn, and watermelon now grow in his garden. He typically spends four hours a day carefully tending his crops. Each day, he meticulously waters his plants, sprays each one with essential minerals, and pulls every weed.

Throughout the next few months, Joe will share the fruits of his labor with the residents of Tall Oaks. He plans to donate the vegetables from his garden to the kitchen staff, so that his fellow residents can enjoy his fresh produce. Meanwhile, Joe is already looking forward to next season when he hopes to plant strawberries, and perhaps even a banana tree. For the moment, he will bask in the summer sunshine and work on making his garden grow.

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