Dirt has been overturned and wooden stakes driven into the ground to mark off plots of land where residents of the Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community will soon begin planting and growing everything from flowers to vegetables.
With the help of a tractor borrowed from Dale Barrier, 15-year-old John Lefever Jr. and his father John Lefever of Fishing Creek Road, Quarryville, helped 89-year-old retired pastor Rev. Harold Hight get a 35-foot by 95-foot plot of land beside Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church ready for spring planting.
"The ground is excellent," said the older Lefever as he tilled the land by using the tractor on Monday. "This is the sort of stuff I like to do. This is much easier than discing."
The Lefevers were helping to get the plot of land ready as part of an "experiencing agriculture" project the younger Lefever is doing for his ag science class as a freshman at Solanco High School. His aunt, Bonnie Anderson, is the activity coordinator in skilled nursing at the retirement community and knew Rev. Hight needed some help in getting it ready for the residents to begin planting.
"My brother (Jason, 13) volunteers here in skilled care and I saw there was an opportunity and asked about it," said the younger Lefever, who is a member of the Solanco FFA chapter and plays shortstop for the JV baseball team. The Lefevers were able to do the project on Monday because school was not in session for the Easter holiday and the older Lefever had the day off work from Turkey Hill Dairy in Conestoga where he is a mechanic.
As his father roto-tilled 10-inches deep into the ground on Monday morning, the younger Lefever helped Rev. Hight measure 10 by 35-foot plots of land using a tape measure and wooden stakes.
"I volunteered to lay this out," said Hight, after the former gardener passed away, "so this is a new experience for me." He credits his wife, who started the Bunny Trail at the retirement community, with being the green thumb.
A letter was sent to retirement community residents letting them know the plots would soon be ready and outlining the rules, such as keeping up with the weeds and what could not be planted, such as annuals, which come back every year.
Hight said the residents have grown everything from tomatoes, onions and carrots to flowers. When clearing the land, Hight said he pulled up some carrots and onions.
Of the project, Hight said, "I think it's pretty nice. I think this is great for a father and son to get together."
A resident of the retirement community for 18 years, Hight said he hasn't had a lot of time to garden when he was a full-time pastor because he moved around a lot.
"I enjoy the great outdoors," he said.
Diane Waltman, who coordinates the volunteer program, said there are many volunteer opportunities available to Solanco students at the retirement community.