Although the thermometer was still be recording summer temperatures in September, but seniors in southeast Ohio were already thinking about fall – and preparing for an autumn harvest. The first Friday of the month the Hocking Athens Perry Community Action Program (HAPCAP) sponsored a special Lunch and Fall Planting event for seniors who participate in their Logan Senior Dining Site’s senior nutrition program.

The gardening is the second phase of HAPCAP’s What A WasteTM (WAW) project at Logan.  Throughout the summer seniors had been separating and measuring the uneaten food left on their plates. That plate waste, along with unserved food that would normally be discarded, was sent to another non-profit organization, Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers, Inc., where the waste was composted. In return the Recycling Center sent nutrient rich compost back to HAPCAP for use in senior gardens. The partnership is a new one that was facilitated by NFESH as part of the WAW program at the Logan Senior Dining Site. But now, a few months into the collaboration, both programs expect it will be an ongoing arrangement.

“The gardening phase of What A Waste has been very popular with seniors and program managers at sites across the country,” observed Enid Borden, NFESH President and CEO. “We are not surprised by this at all, because it gives seniors an opportunity to participate in a healthy activity at the same time that they give back to the community by creating a new source of fresh produce. It is win-win all around.”

In announcing the planting day and inviting seniors to participate, HAPCAP referred to September 2, 2016 as its “first Fall Planting” day.  “We are delighted with HAPCAP’s designation,” NFESH COO Matt Levine said. “Calling this the first clearly signals that HAPCAP intends to make composting of its food waste and planting gardens a regular part of its operations. That’s a surefire way to guarantee some new found sustainability for the program.”

gress-photoThat first garden was planted by the seniors on the premises of the Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen. Now, just one month later, the garden is producing lots of greens and other vegetables (see above) and the harvest has already begun. Now the Logan Dining Site is working with the kitchen staff to incorporate that fresh, locally-grown produce into the senior nutrition site’s menu, so seniors can enjoy the benefits of their labor.

There is little doubt now that next year the folks in Logan will head back out to the grounds of the regional kitchen early in 2017 for the first Spring Planting day and then after that for the second Fall gardening. It is just one of the ways that What A Waste is bringing sustainability to the meal program in Logan.