older couple high five one another outdoors on bocce ball court

Live Vibrantly - October 20, 2022

Outdoor Recreation on an Urban CCRC Campus

By Mädi Green, GHBC Resident

This article first appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of VaCCRA News, a publication of the Virginia Continuing Care Residents Association

Spring 2022 introduced many new ways for the residents of Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads (GHBC) in Falls Church, Virginia, to enjoy their outdoor areas, the fruition of projects residents had been working on for over two years.

three older adults play bocce ball outside
The GHBC bocce ball court

Spurred by the COVID lockdown of 2019-2021, with no opportunities for off-campus excursions, residents spent more time outside getting acquainted with the grounds and exploring less frequented areas, envisioning improvements and additions that would provide them a wider variety of activities while stuck at home.

New Outdoor Amenities

an older man and woman play putt putt outside
The putt putt course at GHBC

Thanks to the vision and persistence of residents working with the residents’ Grounds and Fitness committees, the Grounds and Fitness staffs, and members of the administration, the GHBC campus now sports three new permanent outdoor facilities: a Pickleball Court, a Bocce Ball Court, and an Astroturf putting green. These activities complement the Saturday morning croquet games residents have played on the front lawn for many years. A resident Pickleball advocate nurtured the project, recruiting a Senior Olympics Pickleball medalist to win over key administrators and become the Pickleball teacher once the court was completed.

two older men play pickleball outside
Playing pickleball at GHBC

Wilderness Trail Enhancements

The project that consumed the most time, effort, and energy by far (and which has generated the most pride) is the creation of the Wilderness Trail, a resident-led effort to reclaim a former pathway long neglected and overgrown after several major construction projects disrupted the area a decade ago. Because of an abundance of native poison ivy and other untamed growth, it had been declared off limits to residents. Resident volunteers used their COVID-generated free time to undertake a labor of love: to cut and clear brush and nonnative invasives such as Japanese honeysuckle and English ivy. Native plant aficionados and avid walkers joined the team, Grounds staff added their specialized talents, and the administration provided their support.

While the trail was fit for use by the hardiest walkers last summer, residents and staff continued working to upgrade the pathways and make the trail safer and welcoming to more walkers. Last fall, the Grounds staff started adding native and other plants to areas laid bare by the removal of invasives. They devoted the winter to spreading mulch (made of chopped underbrush) where needed, leveling portions of the trail, installing wooden railings where the path narrows, and building seven new wooden benches for the trail. This April, the Grounds Supervisor led a guided tour Wilderness Trail in celebration of Earth Day. Residents can now don their sturdy shoes, grab a walking stick and their cell phone, and set off for a 0.22-mile nature walk along the ever-improving Wilderness Trail.

Knoll Garden Improvements

a sign saying The Knoll Garden stands in front of a bank of flowers
A small slice of the Knoll Garden

For years, the centerpiece of GHBC outdoor activity has been the Knoll Garden, where residents can stroll, or roll their rollators and wheelchairs, and delight in the seasonal flowers and other plants tended by 20+ residents. GHBC residents also tend 32 individual garden boxes where residents grow their personal favorites, such as herbs, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, and perennial and annual flowers; the “Cutting Garden,” the source of many of our indoor flower arrangements; and the “Butterfly Garden,” home to plants that attract pollinators and butterflies.

COVID also gave resident birders the impetus to resurrect their idea of having a flowing water feature in the Knoll Garden to attract more birds than the birdbaths and bird feeders they already maintained. A group of the resident Grounds Committee members spent months researching the requirements, selecting a location, and working with the administration to extend the electricity supply into the garden. The Grounds Supervisor oversaw the installation of The Knoll Spring in the fall of 2021, to the delight of residents, staff, and visitors, as well as birds and other animals.

Yes. Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads residents can participate in a wide variety of activities in the great outdoors without leaving home.

_______

Mädi Green has lived in Virginia since 1966. She moved to GHBC from next-door Arlington in 2018. She currently serves on the Resident Council, as co­-chair of the Grounds Committee, and as recording secretary of the Community Service Committee. She likes to grow things.

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