Paula Jaimes has lived at Park Hill Apartments for about 15 years. As soon as she moved in, she wanted to spruce the place up. A few years passed, and she started with a small garden just outside the first floor of the brick building where she lives.
That small garden grew and now spans the entire wall. She even had a fence built around it to contain the plants and keep children away.
Neighbors took note, and some started planting their own gardens on a smaller scale. The apartment complex took note, too. Now, residents have a community garden to enjoy at the property off Park Hill Drive.
“When I’m really stressed and I plant flowers, it’s like my stress goes away,” Jaimes said through a Spanish-speaking translator, Francisca Llamas, property manager for Park Hill Apartments. “And it looks pretty.”
Greenleaf Management owns Park Hill Apartments, and as its properties have changed over the years, management has found different ways to beautify the grounds. At Park Hill, there was a large open space with a pool years ago. Eventually, that pool was filled in and replaced by a basketball court and tall, chain-link fence. All that remains is the blacktop from that court, no goals and no fence.
So Les Jaen, community lead at the apartment complex, took the advice from Greenleaf Management and helped start what will become a community garden, something the company is doing across most of its properties.
After seeing all the small plants filled with peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables pop up around the property, and Jaimes’ garden filled with chiles and too many varieties of flowers to count, he knew the community garden would be a perfect fit.
“We just want to make an environment where neighbors help each other, and it’s more of a friendly environment for our community,” Jaen said. “And I believe this is going to work very well.”
Now there’s a large area that has been tilled, covered with mulch and soon will be surrounded by tree stumps. Planter boxes with cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, bell peppers and other vegetables have been put in, with more vegetables to be introduced once the garden gets underway. There will be plants scattered throughout to help the aesthetics for residents, and even for those driving nearby.
“I’m really excited about it and I think I can get a lot of people to help take care of it,” Jaimes said. “All of that kind of stuff is pretty. It’s just something beautiful and brings the community together. Everything that comes through that field will be really pretty.”
The plan is to have the community get involved as much as possible. That’s something Jaimes is excited about and looks forward to helping out with.
Jaen said the goal is to create more of a friendly, community-oriented environment within the property, and he thinks the garden is a step in the right direction.
“The mission is to provide our residents with not just a living, residential experience, but a friendly, ‘love thy neighbor’ community,” Jaen said. “And at the same time, we give them things that will benefit them.”