COVENTRY — As the Coventry Resource and Senior Center prepares to move into its new home on Wood Street, a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation will help the center construct a greenhouse expected to affect the community in a number of ways.
“This is a positive transition time for our department, and to get this grant on top of that is really exciting,” Bob Robillard, director of the Coventry Department of Human Services, said Tuesday.
The $9,230 grant, awarded through the foundation’s Community Foundation program, will cover the cost of the greenhouse’s construction, heating and ventilation systems, raised beds and various adaptive gardening tools.
Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments at the Rhode Island Foundation, said the hope is that funding awarded through the Community Foundation program helps to “create places to gather, make friendships and launch new collaborations that will build community connections everywhere.”
“We’re excited about these ideas for making community happen in more and better ways at the local level,” she continued. “Supporting community-building will improve shared places and quality of life, promote collaboration and increase community engagement.”
The primary goal in building the greenhouse at the senior center is for it to bolster community connections for local seniors while they grow food to feed Coventry residents in need, Robillard said.
“The sole focus with this particular project is to build community,” he said. “Connecting our seniors to their community, and the community to our seniors, is a really important piece of the work that we do.”
Seniors will use the new greenhouse to plant organic vegetables that will later be transferred to the community garden on Flat River Road.
Once harvested, all the produce from the garden gets donated to the local food bank.
“We want to have our seniors be part of that process of getting food to our neighbors in need,” Robillard said, adding that the program will also serve to “educate participants in organic best practices.”
The greenhouse is just one of several tools that will be used to improve health and wellness at the new resource and senior center, Robillard said. In addition to using it for horticultural therapy, he added, the greenhouse will be useful for collaborating with local students for intergenerational programming.
The greenhouse will also be made handicap accessible. Specially-designed raised beds will allow gardeners in wheelchairs to plant and pick with ease; adaptive equipment will let those with arthritis and grip strength problems garden comfortably.
For seniors who have always enjoyed gardening but now live in communities that lack opportunities for it, Robillard said he’s sure the greenhouse will be a welcome addition.