The AHEPAN - Fall 2016 - 25


HOUSING

Community Gardens Keep Tennessee Residents Active
There's something growing at AHEPA Senior
Apartments in La Vergne, Tenn., outside of
Nashville. In late summer, the vegetables are ripening, but so is the sense of community among
the residents who take advantage of the raised
bed gardens built by John Pagonis as an Eagle
Scout project in 2015.
Currently a sophomore at Columbia College
in Chicago, Pagonis first conceived of the garden
project for the AHEPA House in fall 2014. John
designed the beds himself. With lumber donated
by Home Depot and soil provided by Nature's
Best, John and Troop 11 built two raised beds in
time for the spring 2015 planting season.
"The walls of the beds are pretty high," John
said. "I designed it that way so residents don't
have to bend over too much to work their garden
plots."
Finishing the project wasn't easy though. The
Boy Scouts hauled six cubic yards of soil in a
small trailer that required three trips to the nursery. And then the dirt was moved to the garden
beds one wheelbarrow at a time.
"It felt complete to me when I had a chance
to go back and see people growing things in the
garden," said Pagonis. "I was amazed that the
beds were so popular that the apartment manager had to organize volunteer gardeners with a
sign-up sheet."
The garden space helps residents remain
active during the spring and summer according
to Region 7 manager Tammy Franks, who oversees 16 AHEPA properties in the Southeast. "It's
a positive experience for the residents, because
it channels their energy and they take great
pride in the fruits of their labors by sharing with
neighbors," said Franks. "It brings back a touch
of home too, since many residents probably had
For his Eagle Scout project, Pagonis (top), built raised garden beds for the senior comgardens when they lived independently."
munity of La Vergne, Tenn.
With the gardens now winding down a second
growing season, the project continues to grow. John, who folmore raised beds at the La Vergne apartments. "I hope the
lowed in the footsteps of his father, Demetri, and grandfather,
local chapter can help me add maybe two or three more in
Chris Botsaris, by joining AHEPA this summer, is planning
the next year or so," he said.

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