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Extra veggies grown by Harold and Judy Berger go to St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank.

NEWS-TIMES/HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Harold and Judy Berger had raised garden beds built in their yard to make it easier to tend their garden without bending so far.Two longtime Hillsboro residents have been using their green thumbs to give back to the community.

Harold and Judy Berger have lived in their Northeast Hillsboro home for 42 years. The couple has had always had a knack for gardening, but lately, they've changed things up in the form of an adaptive garden to make upkeep of their small crops easier.

"A while back, before we even started work on the adaptive garden, we wanted to cut back on yard work, so we began taking out grass," said Judy. "More recently, we've been having problems with bending over to deal with the garden."

In addition, an aggressive weed was beginning to take over their garden area.

Judy began noticing gardening beds popping up at apartment complexes and around the community at their neighbors' houses. In May the couple decided to call Jordan's Lawnscape & More to assist them with overhauling their garden setup.

"It was either install these new garden beds or move to assisted living," said Judy.

"Ever since they came to do the work, we haven't seen any weeds," said Harold.

Now that the new custom raised beds (two, two and a half and three feet high) are installed, with new garden mix to boot, the couple has an easier time getting in their exercise and at the same time maintaining the garden.

"Watering this summer was a challenge. It was really, really hot," said Judy. "But we ended up having good growth. Too much, in fact."

The Bergers' garden features 15 different types of tomatoes (Harold's favorite), zucchini, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, cabbage, radishes, basil, mint, oregano, parsley and a few other small plants.

A couple of years ago, Judy turned the large side yard into the "Michelle Obama" garden, named after the previous First Lady, whom she admires. The spot features blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

The Bergers make dishes like coleslaw, salads, pizzas, salsa, casseroles, seasoned yogurt and and zucchini bread. Whatever produce they have left over — and it's a lot — they donate to St. Vincent DePaul Food Bank through St. Matthew Catholic Church.

"We know the people, we have many friends there, and it's a worthwhile cause," said Judy. "We also give a lot to our neighbors and friends. We maintain this garden for our health, but also to give back to the community."

Harold estimates they've donated around 200 pounds of produce to the food bank this summer.

The couple noted that the tomatoes are juicier when homegrown, and the plants grow faster.

"This was our experiment, so we may look into growing some other things in the future when seasons change," said Judy. "We're into efficiency and giving to others moreso than making our garden look good. It keeps us busy."

Over the years, Harold and Judy have done a lot of traveling, especially in Europe. They also enjoy keeping a close eye on politics and sports. And they have two daughters, one currently living in London, the other Seattle. For now, they'll continue to focus on their health and donating their garden surplus.

"It's perfect, organic and healthy," said Judy. "And it's also a great way for us stay active. Our garden really does give us the chance to do that."

NEWS-TIMES/HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - This lemon cucumber plant seems to like the Bergers' adaptive garden bed, taking over the whole plot and cascading down the sides.

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