Fertile ground for gardeners and empty stomachs

Fertile ground for gardeners and empty stomachs

Another spring has sprung, which means a community at the southern end of Federal Way is entering its ninth year of giving its age 55-plus residents a place to grow vegetables and flowers to their collective hearts’ desire.

Over the years, Kloshe Illahee’s community garden has grown in popularity and production. Last year, it was teeming with tomato, zucchini, yellow squash, lettuce and basil plants. One tomato plant spawned more than 100 tomatoes by itself. Some of the excess is donated to local food banks.

Also flourishing are the spirits of the people digging in the dirt. Staying young in mind and body is easier by staying active, and studies confirm what common sense tells gardeners — that their hobby is good for their overall health by reducing or controlling depression, anxiety and weight, and boosting feelings of personal satisfaction, quality of life and a sense of community.

Whether they’re new gardening or been doing it virtually their whole lives, the folks tending to Kloshe Illahee’s garden “are thrilled to be involved,” said Charmaine Sanders, manager of the 400-resident community.

The communal garden was started eight years ago because residents can’t have gardens in their yards because of space limitations and other restrictions. The garden, located next to the clubhouse, now has 20 individual plots, including raised beds. Mostly vegetables are grown, but flowers brighten the landscapes, too.

All gardeners are required to use organic practices, meaning no artificial fertilizers. Organic soil was trucked in for the beds, Sanders said.

Once a week, some of the produce is delivered by Kloshe Illahee residents to a food bank.

Along with gardening, the residents can nurture their souls with other recreation offered by the community, including a fitness center, a swimming pool, a sauna and spa, and wooded greenbelt with a picnic table, benches and a creek.