2012 Awards: Seniors Grow with Gardening Giveaway
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2012 Awards: Seniors Grow with Gardening Giveaway

April 5, 2013

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Nutrition, Fitness, & Health


Rancho and Lakeview Senior Centers,
Irvine, CA


The EarthBox Giveaway program increases senior access to healthy and nutritious food options and physical activity. By providing the initial equipment at no cost, this program allows seniors with physical and strength limitations, as well as space limitations, to produce homegrown fruits and vegetables and seasonal plants and flowers.

The program was made possible by the Healthy City Healthy Planet (HCHP) initiative. A total of $40,000 in funding was allocated by the City Council to begin HCHP and was to be focused on programs and materials that furthered the HCHP goals. HCHP is the embodiment of the City of Irvine’s commitment to providing information and resources to support the health, fitness, well-being, and sustainability of Irvine’s residents and communities.

A total of $6,500 was provided to purchase 65 EarthBox planters, 195 bags of soil, and 42 fruit and vegetable seed packets. Participants receive the reusable EarthBox container with an aeration screen, fill tube, mulch covers, and instruction packet to grow their own crops.

The EarthBox is easy to use; participants only need to monitor the water reservoir. To reuse, participants remove the old plants, the used fertilizer strip, and some of the soil.

Participants are currently growing numerous plants, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs and record their progress in an EarthBox journal. Trained volunteers and staff provide monthly support by reviewing journal entries, monitoring the growth of crops, answering questions, and providing feedback to gardeners during the six-month time commitment.

In addition to providing healthy food, this program offers the benefit of increased mental, social, and physical activity through gardening. This program instills pride for seniors when they able share their crops with friends and neighbors, which provides the opportunity to develop new friendships and stronger ties within their community. The Earthbox can be reused for many growing seasons.

The structure of this program is collaborative in nature and can be easily replicated by other communities.

Number of Staff/Volunteers Required

2 Staff; 3 Volunteers


$0; Expense: $6,500; Net: ($6,500)


Lydie Gutfeld
Rancho and Lakeview Senior Centers
3 Ethel Coplen Way
Irvine, CA


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