In accordance with the spring season, two senior living communities are cultivating their green thumbs for the greater good. 

Cornwall Manor Retirement Community of Cornwall, PA, has partnered with the Rodale Institute, a global leader in organic agriculture, to create the Cornwall Manor Rodale Institute Trailside Organic Farm: a certified organic vegetable farm led by the industry experts of the Rodale Institute. 

This aerial photos shows the the site where the organic farm will be. In the upper part of the photo is the community’s Woods neighborhood (all independent living).

Their mission is to give all residents access to local, organic food, fostering an environment conducive to health and well-being.

“Organic food is garnering increased attention among senior living organizations as a means to not only prevent disease, but improve health outcomes for all,” said Lee Stickler, president and CEO of Cornwall Manor. “We sought to partner with the industry experts at Rodale Institute to establish the Trailside Organic Farm on Cornwall Manor’s Woods Campus to strongly support our wellness philosophy, which is based on the principle that each resident is entitled to enjoy and maintain the highest level of health, dignity, independence and activity.”

Cornwall Manor is the first retirement community to partner with Rhode Institute, and both organizations hope it won’t be the last. Their goal is for their partnership and farm to serve as a model, blazing the trail for other retirement communities to follow suit. 

Trailside Organic Farm will start off as a two-acre certified organic farm located on Cornwall Manor’s Woods Campus, near the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail. With Rodale Institute’s guidance, the farm will give residents healthy, hyperlocal foods across all campus dining rooms. Both residents and team members will also have the option to purchase fresh, organic farm produce for personal use as the farm’s harvest grows. 

Future plans for the farm include hiring a farm manager, planting crops on one of the acres and site preparations. An unheated greenhouse will also be installed by 2022 to extend the growing season, and locally grown, seasonal produce is projected to enter Cornwall Manor’s dining rooms by fall of 2022.

“Our society’s older adults and other vulnerable populations deserve healthy, organic food,” said Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute CEO. “Building a farm right on Cornwall Manor’s campus ensures that residents will not only reap the nutritional benefits of organic food, but they will benefit from the biodiversity, clean air, and connection to nature that organic farms foster as well.”

Cornwall Manor Retirement Community is not the only organization using its green thumb. 

Judith Williams poses with some of the plants she planted.

At Spring Hills Senior Living in Princeton, NJ, senior resident Judith William works diligently to renovate both the community garden and farm-to-table vegetable and herb garden. Her efforts were recognized during the Garden Lounge Opening Party, which took place on May 14. 

William, 77, is a professional gardener and resident at Spring Hills Princeton. Before the event, she helped to pick out the flowers, herbs and vegetables and helped plant all of it. The Grand Lounge Opening Party featured garden foods such as caprese salad.

Gardening has been a big passion for William’s throughout her entire life. She grew up in Abington, PA, where her mother was president of the Bryn Athyn Garden Club. William even was sent to gardening school by the Ortho fertilizing company after moving to Lancaster, PA, and has built professional gardens for 12 years.

As a breast cancer survivor, William also views gardening as an outlet. “Gardening is one of the most therapeutic hobbies one can develop. It changes your life,” she said. “Gardening is in my blood and soul.”

Click here to see the In Focus archive and read how to submit your photos for consideration