MIDDLETOWN, NJ - Over the last seven years, the Garden Club R.F.D. (GCRFD) has been associated with the New Jersey Blind Citizens Association (NJBCA) in Leonardo at 18 Burlington Avenue. This organization is the oldest organization serving the blind and visually impaired adults in New Jersey—a 501c3 non-profit, non-sectarian charitable organization that attempts to improve the lives of the blind and visually impaired economically, vocationally, educationally and socially.
GCRFD’s work is an outgrowth of the Garden Club of New Jersey’s Garden Therapy Program. For six years, an herb and vegetable garden was established and maintained by the Club, working with Blind Citizen, Charles Blood, who acted as liaison between GCRFD and the NJBCA. Two years ago, a $500 grant was awarded to GCRFD by the Garden Club of New Jersey to help support their gardening efforts.
Of course, last year, Sandy struck the shore area, and the garden suffered greatly. It is currently on its way back with the help of the Boy Scouts. It is hoped that next summer will again see a garden bloom. The products of the garden are used in preparation of lunches for the blind and extra produce is taken home by the attendees.
Bernice Berger and Ruth Korn co-chaired this Garden Therapy Program for GCRFD. Ruth was responsible for the garden and Bernice scheduled talks about and tastings of the healthy foods that were grown.
Bernice is continuing her presentations with a program entitled, “For Your Health—From the Garden to Your Table”. In October, the program was “Decreasing the use of Sodium and Increasing the use of Herbs and Spices.” While the blind citizens can’t see, they can smell, feel and taste everything that is set in front of them and they listen intently. Bernice has also organized trips to local restaurants so that the blind citizens can get further exposure to healthy food of varying cultures. And, the different atmosphere fosters good feelings as they socialize with each other.
November brought a discussion of the history of possible ingredients used in a salad-- and their nutritional values. Then the attendees chose their favorite ingredients and made their own salad for lunch.
Presentations and field trips to restaurants usually occur on Tuesdays. If you are interested in helping others and enjoy fresh food and gardening, you might like to find out more about the Garden Club RFD and the work that they do with the NJBCA in Leonardo. Call Bernice at 732-939-6727.
If you are interested in flower arranging, Design Seminars are being taught this year by Club member, Tanya Ashuck, a National Garden Club Accredited Judge. Members of the GCRFD will use the skills learned when they participate in the Visiting Nurse Association’s Holiday House Tour, a fundraiser, on December 6. A large and beautiful home in Rumson will be decorated with floral arrangements by Garden Club R.F.D. Then on December 7, other members of the Club will be planting dune grass on the beaches of Sea Bright as part of a coordinated effort of a number of the local garden clubs. As you can tell, we are a working garden club.