86-year-old wins two first-place ribbons for gardening at Otoe County Fair

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A Syracuse woman won two first-place ribbons at the Otoe County Fair for her outstanding gardening at her assisted living community.

JoAnne Bates, 86, has spent the last 15 years planting flowers with Gerri Harden, the assisted living manager.

Harden expressed how excited Bates gets when it is time to plant her flowers for the year.

This year, Harden thought she would enter them into the county fair, but little did she know that Bates would win.

“She needed some help,” Bates said. “So, I went out there to help her ’cause I had seen her working out there, and I thought, you know, I am going to go out there and help her. So, we have been watering them all the time. It’s hot like this. We have been watering them and making them look pretty.”

The assisted living has two of its own large raised garden beds with flowers and vegetables, along with large flower pots at the entrance. Bates has made it her mission and purpose to ensure the garden is kept up and always looking beautiful.

Some of Bates’ favorite flowers are daisies because “they are so pretty.”

She reminisced on the roses her mother had around their house as a kid and how they took care of them. The gardening today brings back all of those wonderful memories.

She can be found outside most days tending to the flowers or picking some for the other residents.

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