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Box Garden Yields New Growth for Memory-Care Residents at Renaissance Marquis

Jim Fricks among Those Cultivating Old Memories, through Gardening-Centered Therapy

Jim Fricks - watering tomatoesROME, Ga. (July 23, 2014) – “I like to see everything changing colors,” says James (Jim) Fricks, the unofficial caretaker of the box garden at Renaissance Marquis.

The simple box garden, created as part of the memory care program, contains only a few tomato, corn, bean and pepper plants. But it is a source of constant conversation, reminiscing, and activity for the residents at The Harbor, Renaissance Marquis’ unit dedicated to Alzheimer’s and memory care.

“So many of our memory care residents lived with gardening as they were growing up – some to make a living and some just for their family,” says David Duke, Activities Director at The Harbor. “This is a great way for them to connect with their younger days and share their stories.”

Fricks responded to the garden right away after moving to The Harbor in early spring. His “supervisory role” now spurs him to remind Duke when to water and what plants are almost ready for harvest. “I have enjoyed gardening for the last three years,” says Fricks. “I like watching it grow and produce, I like to check on the progress, and I really like the tomato sandwiches – there’s nothing better with mayonnaise and bread.”

“They get most excited about the harvest,” says Duke. Residents also help with the planning, planting and upkeep, weather permitting. Vegetables from the garden, when available, are incorporated into the meals giving the residents a sense of participation and a great starting point for discussion about yesteryear, and an integrated part of the memory care services at The Harbor.

“Mr Fricks is very faithful in helping with the gardening,” says Duke. “He is out there almost as much as I am. He takes real ownership in the overall success of the garden, and I promised him the first tomato harvested.”