First published on July 30, 2017 in the Broomfield Enterprise, by Graham Griffin

Summer mornings find residents at the Avenues at Crofton Park tending their vast gardens, now full of all sorts of vegetables and herbs.

Self-described as boutique senior living, The Avenues at Crofton Park provides residents aged 55 and older with a unique living opportunity, and one of the most popular social initiatives has been the community garden. The community opened four years ago.

Ann Karlen, collecting rhubarb, was among the volunteers who created and care for the garden at The Avenues at Crofton Park in Broomfield. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

“We originally hired a professional gardener to take care of the garden,” said Ted Van Bogaert, property manager at The Avenues.”The residents wanted to garden themselves, so they took over.”

The gardens are comprised of multiple wooden planter boxes, and are fully-staffed by those living in the community. A gardening committee comprised of 10 residents help to organize and run the garden.

This year marks the second one since the residents have begun gardening themselves. Within their garden,s they produce a plethora of vegetables. From beans to tomatoes, all of the produce that comes out of the earth goes back into the community. The produce is used for community events, or the residents can take some home for their own use.

“Everybody always wants to get tomatoes,” said Ann Karlen, one of the original six community members to take over gardening duties. “They are always in demand.”

The residents also produce more seasonal varieties of produce throughout the year when available.

“We grow fall onions, scallions, and also lots of herbs,” Karlen said.

They also grow pumpkins which later decorate the entire community for fall, according to Van Bogaert.

The residents take it upon themselves to decorate the garden during the holidays, as well as throughout the year. Pinwheels are a common sight in the planter boxes along with fake animals, all of which are used to deter any pests that would ruin the produce.

Some residents tend to the garden every day, while others participate only a few days a week. The garden is operated entirely on a volunteer basis although the majority of gardening occurs in the early morning.

Ken Kirk, walking by the cucumbers, was among the volunteers who created and care for the garden at The Avenues at Crofton Park in Broomfield. For more photos, go to broomfieldenterprise.com. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

“Many of the residents who garden are early risers,” Van Bogaert said. “They like to finish their work in the gardens before any of the sprinklers go off and what-not so it works out really well for everyone.”

The Avenues at Crofton Park also strives to provide its residents with a plethora of opportunities to be both physically and mentally stimulated. There always are new events being added to the calendar — most of which are usually free to attend — as well as being open to the public.

Located at 12431 King St., The Avenues is an independent living community comprised of apartments and cottages. All of the buildings within the community achieve the National Green Building Standard and staff works tirelessly to provide “avenues to healthy, celebration, and wellness lifestyles,” Bogaert said.

If the granite countertops and stainless steel appliances were not enough to draw in potential residents the vibrant social programs would surely draw a crowd.

The events range from Tai Chi Fusion, in which an experienced instructor leads residents through a combination of Korean-style Tai Chi and yoga moves to relieve stress, to a vision-loss clinic that helps to educate and support those losing their vision.

“Every Monday and Friday, a professional comes in to lead us in an exercise,” Karlen said. “The exercises are aimed at seniors so we do both chair and stand up type of exercises.”

The most popular event put on by the staff is the Thursday social hours. Occurring on a weekly basis, the social hours give residents, as well as potential residents, the opportunity to gather together and further develop community.

“There are always tons of residents at the Thursday social hour,” Van Bogaert said. “They love to get together and welcome new residents and meet new people who are looking into the community.”

Those in attendance can be welcomed by everything from live music to potlucks, usually featuring freshly picked produce from the garden.

According to Karlen the “Thursdays are great. We all get together and learn about everyone’s lives. We always take in new people as friends.”

The community also hosts local school performances as well as Chamber of Commerce meetings so that it stays connected to the larger Broomfield community.

“Our goal is to provide an active community that keeps everyone both mentally and physically stimulated,” Van Bogaert said. “We want to keep things as fresh as possible for everyone involved.”

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