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Neighbors of Kane County

Resident-run garden provides farm-to-table option at local retirement community

Jul 18, 2016 11:02AM ● By Neighbors Magazines

Each spring, there’s a bustle of activity in the freshly toiled garden located at The Holmstad retirement community. Members of the community’s Garden Club are preparing for another summer of growing fresh produce, and it’s no small feat.

The garden, called Armstrong Gardens, measures 50- by 300-feet, with each member assigned a plot that measures between 12- by 12 and 12- by 50-feet. They’re free to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers of their choosing. By mid-July, gardeners’ efforts have paid off, and there’s enough delicious vegetables and bunches of fragrant flowers and herbs to share.

As during each summer before, Holmstad residents eagerly wait for opening day of the Garden Market, a farm-to-table concept they’ve been enjoying long before farm-to-table was mainstream. “It’s like having a glorified roadside stand in your backyard,” says resident Bruce Larson. He co-chairs the Garden Club with fellow Holmstad resident Roberta Peterson. Both are avid gardeners.

This year, July 19, marks the opening of the community’s Garden Market, where during harvest season residents line up each Tuesday at 8:30am for a 9am opening. Zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and other vegetables, plus herbs and fresh corn on the cob purchased from a local farm about 10 miles down the road, are available for purchase. “The fresh corn on the cob is the one thing we cheat on,” jokes Larson. “We buy about 10 dozen each week, but everything else we sell is home-grown.”

Leftover items are donated to the Batavia Food Pantry. A portion of the market proceeds is donated back to the Garden Club to cover basic costs; the rest is donated to various charities, including The Holmstad’s Benevolent Care Fund, which assists residents who can no longer afford health services.  

This year, 22 resident gardeners, along with one or two local Batavia residents and family members, joined in the effort. “Gardening is therapeutic at any age,” says Larson. “It’s good to get outdoors and get your hands in the dirt."

For more information about The Holmstad, or if you’d like a tour, call 877-226-7310 or visit