Volunteer day scheduled for June 3

A non-profit organization has big plans for the grounds surrounding Twin Cities Pavilion in Niceville

Sow America, whose mission includes helping communities become self-sufficient through regenerative agriculture practices, is partnering with Elder Services of Okaloosa County to transform the local assisted living facility into a community gardening oasis.

“We are currently in the planning stage,” said Sow America Executive Director Cameron Howard. “Ultimately, there will be three gardens areas. Two will be focused on food production, while the garden in front of the building will serve as an educational and sensory garden so the residents can enjoy time outside, engaging in nature.”

According to Sow American’s website, the project will also serve as a pilot for the organization’s food waste diversion program, transforming food waste into useful compost for organic gardening. 

“It’s hard to believe, but up to 30 percent of our food is wasted,” Howard said. “Our program will take waste from restaurants and other businesses, which prevents it from ending up in landfills. We are the only approved organization in Okaloosa County to divert food waste from those sources.”

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The produce grown in the facility’s community garden will provide local, organic, nutrient-filled food for Twin Cities Pavilion’s residents.

“I didn’t realize until recently how hard it is for residents of assisted living facilities to get access to fresh produce,” Howard said.

Karen Goodson, the marketing director for the pavilion, said she is thrilled about the partnership.

“This is going to be a wonderful experience for our residents,” Goodson said. “They will be able to participate in the gardening process, and Sow America will be offering classes for our residents and the public. I am looking forward to all the wonderful things that the different gardens are going to produce.”

Howard said he is amazed by the reception the plan has received.

“I love seeing the support we have in Okaloosa County,” he said. “We’ve already received a donation of topsoil from Helms Hauling, and we’re hoping to have a fundraiser soon to help with other expenses.”

Sow America is planning a volunteer day at the pavilion on June 3. 

“We will be prepping the ground, and seeing what other repairs the building might need,” Howard said. “I’m hoping that we will be able to break ground within a month, so we can take advantage of the growing season.”

For more information about the project, visit Sow America’s website.

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