Volunteers Bring Green Thumbs to Arc Group Homes

Three people stand around a garden bed, holding gardening tools. A white fence is visible behidn them.

For more than a decade, Al Ianacone and Susan Langler have been bringing beauty, nutrition, and flavor to the Arc group homes by planting gardens for residents, and this year was no exception.

With the help of Susan’s husband Frank, the group installed gardens at Cedar Grove and Linden group homes and the Claremont Apartments, planting several types of tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, broad-leaf parsley, and marigolds. Donating their time, skills, and plants, the trio carefully prepared the soil, planted the seedlings, and watered the gardens, and in the coming days they plan to put down some special powder to repel rabbits and deer. Residents of the homes will regularly water, watch, and harvest from the gardens, and Al and Susan plan to come back every few weeks during the spring and summer months to weed and maintain the plants.

Al and Susan, who both have Master Gardener certifications, say that the gardens are a great way to engage residents in a fun and rewarding activity. In addition to learning about how to care for the gardens, the residents and staff also get to use the herbs and vegetables in their meals, adding fresh and healthy ingredients to homemade dishes.

The Arc is grateful to Al, Susan, and Frank for their hard work and dedication. They have made a positive difference in the lives of the residents and staff for more than 10 years now, and have demonstrated to residents how gardening can be a source of joy and connection.

For additional information about The Arc of Essex County’s residential services, contact The Arc’s Senior Director of Residential Services Rebecca Lorusso via email at rlorusso@arcessex.org or by calling (973) 535-1181 ext. 1270.