The Samaritan House Master Gardener Project started January 1, 2012. This project offers Tarrant County Master Gardeners an opportunity to work together with residents from three different campuses in the hospital district of Fort Worth: the Samaritan House, Pennsylvania Place and Hanratty Place. All three of these residential locations are under the same banner of "Samaritan House" and are within just a few blocks of each other, in the vicinity of the Tarrant County Medical Society building at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Hemphill Street.
With focus on enriching our lives and the lives of our special needs community, Tarrant Country Master Gardeners work with residents in the Samaritan gardens each Tuesday Morning starting at 9:00 am. The Samaritan gardens assists in serving a population of 800 people, over 200 of whom are children. The Samaritan House is located at 929 Hemphill Street and holds 60 special needs adult residents, all of whom are HIV positive.
Our ever expanding gardening plans, under the watchful eye of project leader John Pinkerton, use row gardening and Square Foot Gardening as described by Mel Bartholomew in his book All New Square Foot Gardening. With the enthusiasm of the Samaritan administration and staff and the help of our chief consultant, E.E. "Trip" Smith, Conservation Curator for the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, who supplies us vegetable seedlings and periodic personal gardening tips, we believe our residents are bound to succeed as community gardeners.
Jessica McIllwain's, along with residents, S.J., other staff members and Tarrant County Master Gardeners plan weekly, hour long, education programs. As a part of the education hour, parents and kids spend quality time in the gardens with Master Gardeners to learn how to garden and be, good stewards of God's creation. We are all learning how to plant and harvest vegetables year round with crops to be used by the residents themselves, the Samaritan House Kitchen and Z's Cafe's.
Under the direction of Jerry Tuttle, we are also learning about rain water collection and drip irrigation. Thanks mainly to Mr. Tuttle we have been able to hook up two 2,500 gallon rainwater collection tanks that collect rainwater from the roof of the Samaritan House to a drip irrigation system. And soon we hope to start a composting program that will supply all the compost needed for our gardens with some left over to be used elsewhere in our community.
We are completing a pergola to allow us to get out of the sun for a few minutes while we garden, and before fall we hope to add some elevated Square Foot garden beds to our landscape before its time to plant our fall vegetables.
For the ladies, and I guess some of the men as well, we have perennial beds in the gardens and around the Samaritan House that require attention to continue the work Carolyn Critz instituted for the Samaritan Project. There is always plenty of work to do on Tuesdays to feel good about what you can do for your community.
The residents of Samaritan House are great to work with, and most Master Gardeners say they get more out of working with them than vice versa.