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Peek inside this senior-living community’s gardens (GALLERY)

Spring Mountain Apartments, a low-income senior living community in Pahrump, has a brand new community garden to enjoy thanks to a partnership with two of the valley’s major nonprofit organizations, the NyE Communities Coalition and the Master Gardeners with the University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension.

Established in June, the community garden came about through an offer of free beds, along with the soil to fill them, from local resident Dana Schneider.

“Dana had these garden beds that he no longer wanted so he contacted the Master Gardeners and spoke to Heather here to see what he could do with them to benefit someone else,” NyECC SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator Tamalyn Taylor explained. “Well, almost that same day, the manager here at Spring Mountain Apartments, Stacey Daniels, reached out to say that she wanted to start a garden! Usually these kinds of things take a long time to plan but this was like magic, like it was just meant to be. It came together really fast.”

Schneider’s offer was made in February and just a few short months later, the beds had been moved. The soil was also transferred, bucket by bucket, to the site with the help of Spring Mountain Apartments residents Betty Wilson, Gloria Barnes, Bruce Ellis and Veronica Deist.

They aren’t just any garden beds, either. As Master Gardener Heather Freeman noted, Schneider built them himself and the craftsmanship was easy to appreciate. “It’s Dana’s design, he’s a woodworker. They were originally side-by-side but we decided to stack them, to make it easier to harvest and tend,” Freeman remarked.

She said she and Taylor has been contemplating a community garden inside of a housing area for some time but it was Schneider’s generosity combined with Daniels’ desire that proved the tipping point.

“People have been talking about wanting to put in a community garden for a very long time but in general, those don’t get tended, because people don’t live there,” Freeman said. “Here, the garden beds are right by their homes, the residents can wander out with their cup of coffee in the morning to look for squash bugs and to pick the crops.”

The community garden, which sits on a small plot of land adjacent to the community clubhouse, is also hoped to act as something of a model for other housing developments in the valley.

With the start of the community garden came the beginning of a garden club, too, Taylor added, giving the residents the chance to get together and discuss various gardening tips, techniques and challenges. The group’s most recent meeting took place Thursday, Sept. 14 and the Pahrump Valley Times was invited to take a first-hand look.

With gloves on hands and protection for her arms, one resident was busy picking some okra, which she was simply delighted to have.

“They’re almost too big!” the woman enthused. “And these just came out in the last three days, before that there were none. It’s so nice to be able to do this because you get a yield, you get something back from the investment.”

Another resident gardener on site that afternoon was Ellis, who was occupied with the radish patch.

“I live right there, so I get to see the garden right out of my kitchen window,” Ellis told the Times. “Up ‘til now, it’s just been growing like crazy but nothing was materializing. Then I come out today and I was like wow, look at all this! It’s really starting to pop now.”

Taylor and Freeman both offered their thanks to Schneider as well as Daniels. The former site manager may have since moved on but the work she did to bring the garden to the apartments will provide lasting joy to the residents for years to come.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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