“There’s nothing like the taste of what you grew yourself.” — Cricket Johnson
A familiar face in our gardens, resident Cricket Johnson began farming and gardening on 11 acres in Lancaster County, Virginia, after he retired from the United States Navy as a Rear Admiral with 35 years of service. He sold produce at a local stand and farmer’s markets from his 167 fruit trees, including apples, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and sweet & sour cherries, plus five kinds of berries and an assortment of vegetables.
At Willow Valley, Cricket continues to use his green thumb to tend two vegetable gardens and a perennial garden. No one needs to give up gardening when they move to Willow Valley! Residents have the opportunity to tend flowers, vegetables, and more in gardening plots or raised beds throughout the communities and prepped by the Grounds Team with rich compost and soil. Cricket is currently growing delicious raspberries, asparagus, and blackberries that he often shares with other residents and team members. “There’s nothing like the taste of what you grew yourself,” he says.
Staying connected to nature enriches the vitality of our residents’ minds, bodies, and spirits. In fact, according to a 2009 study referenced by the National Wildlife Federation, time spent enjoying “nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships.”
 Weinstein, N., Przybylski, A. K., & Ryan, R. M. (2009). “Can nature make us more caring? Effects of immersion in nature on intrinsic aspirations and generosity.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1315-1329.