By LINDA LARSON, Columbian Staff Writer, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 1973
In the summer of 1971. a 65-year-old woman who had never before planted so much as a flower shared with her neighbors at Van Vista Plaza vegetables she had raised in a plot on the Alan Ham farm.
That same summer, another senior citizen sent to Maine for some yellow-eyed beans to grow in her plot. Out here she couldn't find any of those favorite beans she had always had back home.
One man could only eat a special broadleaf bean because of an illness His wife sent to Arizona for the seeds to plant in their plot.
Seventeen kinds of vegetables Ė not counting varieties -- were grown by senior citizens that year. All kinds of flowers were grown by the same group and they traded both their vegetables and flowers among themselves,
In the fall when all their harvesting was done, they gathered at Van Vista Plaza and had a dinner featuring all the vegetables they had grown.
Working through the Senior Achievement Corporation under OEC, Mrs. Alan Ham had "rounded up senior citizens and brought them out" to the farm she and her husband ran. Mrs. Ham cultivated the land and each couple or individual planted in his own plot, harvested it and did what he liked with the vegetables.
Mrs. Ham set out on this program because she "enjoys gardening for one thing."
"I like to see things grow and I like to see the enjoyment the people have. I appreciate the chance this gives them to help out on their incomes," she said.
But mostly, Mrs. Ham has helped the senior citizens out because itís what she would like done for her.
"I thought if I was in town with no place to garden and didnít have the strength to cultivate I would like this done for me," she said.
Today Mrs. Ham has moved into town. She and her husband are no longer on their farm. They live in Hazel Dell.
But, Mrs. Ham said she still thinks senior citizens should have a chance to grow their own vegetables. She and a few others are now trying to find some available land within the city that can be cultivated and used to grow crops.
I have seen so much wasted ground," she said. "Every time I go by some I think, ĎWhat a nice place for a garden. It is just going to weeds."
Mrs. Ham wants to find some land before fall because the "ground has to be worked up" for spring planting. She has a small rototiller and will do the cultivating. She hasnít yet gotten hold of any land, but has some people working on it.
Iím sure there will be some land, some place," she said.
If she does get the land, many senior citizens will be able to supplement their income by the vegetables they grow, some will be able to give their surplus to the senior citizens hot lunch program, and some will get together and can (trade) their produce.
There are "just lots of possibilities," Mrs. Ham said. And for her, it will again be "quite a thing to watch these people as the plants come up for the first time."
(This article is reproduced with the generous permission of The Columbian.)