A new, “senior-accessible” community garden is in the works for people to enjoy in Paducah, with the help of some grant funding.
The Paducah-McCracken County Senior Center, 1400 H.C. Mathis Drive, announced Wednesday it was selected to receive a 2021 AARP Community Challenge grant, making it one of 244 grantees across 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s one of five in Kentucky.
The $6,000 “quick-action” grant will go toward creating a community garden at the corner of North 14th Street and Atkins Avenue, which is near the senior center and Housing Authority of Paducah units at H.C. Mathis. It’s expected to have raised garden beds, shade, seating and ADA-compliant pathways.
Christine Thompson, the senior center’s executive director, told The Sun it’s partnering with the Housing Authority of Paducah and the garden’s planned location is on housing authority property. It’s currently a grassy area, and Thompson anticipates the garden will include vegetables, flowers and herbs.
“We’ve already had the initial meeting to kind of start getting this going. The first step we’re doing is having (someone) design the garden, and then go from there, and start buying materials,” she said.
“We’re also discussing, or we’re going to offer, sponsorship opportunities for local organizations, so they can show their support. We’re going to offer like a bench sponsorship, so if any organization wants to sponsor a bench, that would be wonderful. We can make that happen.”
The senior center said it looks forward to partnering with local schools, the city of Paducah and other organizations on future projects, according to a news release. The garden project aims to help improve “nutritional status, provide physical activity and social connections for older adults.”
“Been wanting to do a community garden for a while, and finally, talked to the right people and we’ve just been able to make it happen with Christine’s efforts in getting that grant,” HAP Executive Director Tommy Hollimon Jr. told The Sun.
“It will benefit the senior center. It will benefit the seniors over at H.C. Mathis where they can come out, they can tend the garden, they can reap the benefits from the produce that grows — and get them out, get some exercise and just a little bit of sense of community, and just meet other people.”
He said the housing authority will help with volunteer labor, once the garden gets closer to fruition. Thompson also voiced excitement for the project, noting the senior center received the full funding amount it requested.
“It was kind of serendipitous because someone sent me the link to this quick-action grant, and I had just finished my meeting with Tommy, where we were talking about this great idea for the garden,” she said.
Thompson doesn’t know yet what the project’s total cost will be. She also said Katie Axt, the city’s principal planner, is helping with the project.
It reported that nearly $3.2 million will be distributed to fund 244 projects, in order to help “urban, rural and suburban communities make immediate improvements and jumpstart long-term progress to support residents of all ages.” The different projects need to be completed by Nov. 10.