I think more and more as I grow older, that I need a sense of community surrounding me. Particularly, now with Parkinson’s I want to be part of something that has caring at its centre. A feeling of belonging and being in a place that’s right for me and right for my husband.
Living in Canterbury in North Canterbury/Waimakariri makes me feel that I can be part of my new community. I have recently heard of a group called ‘SEDE’ which stands for ‘Supporting Elderly Diet Enrichment’. The idea is that people who enjoy growing vegetables and fruit are matched up with elderly people in the community. The grower then passes on their surplus produce to either one person they have been matched with, or to the group itself and it is shared out.
I enjoy growing things in my new greenhouse but only had it for a short season last year so didn’t really have any surplus to give. This year, I have high hopes for a good crop. The thing is, there is only my husband and myself to eat all the fruits – and veges – of my labours. Tomato plants come in punnets of six, so six tomato plants can have quite a decent yield. In the past I have been mindful that I can’t grow too much as it would likely go to waste. This scheme is perfect for finding a way to have the satisfaction of growing a decent crop and giving some of it away to someone on a pension who otherwise might struggle with the high prices of fruit and veges in supermarkets.
I have chosen to give to just one person and have been in contact with him today. Although nothing is grown yet to a size where there is a harvest, we can meet and maybe get to know each other a bit, so he feels comfortable with me coming to his home.
This scheme speaks to the Social Worker in me. To be able to be useful and contribute is important to me. I hope this is something that I can do for many years to come and I’m sure it will give me a lot of pleasure if I am able to grow enough to share.
Looking to the future, if I do need to retire reasonably early, by being a part of this scheme I can continue to contribute and feel that I continue to have value. A lot of my identity is wrapped up in my role as a Social Worker. Who will I be when I can no longer carry out that role? If I can find ways to contribute into my uncertain future through this scheme and perhaps in other ways, then I am sure that that will give me a sense of contributing to my community.
Being a Social Worker is something I have been passionate about. Helping people is important to me. Even when I am not officially working as a Social Worker the inherent values that brought me to that profession will remain.