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Senior tenants say they are being forced to remove gardens in their Talent apartment

A garden is seen in the common areas inside Patio Village. Tenants at the complex said they are being forced to remove the flowers and produce they have grown throughout the years. (Ambar Rodriguez/News 10)

After the Almeda fire tore through the heart of Talent, residents at Patio Village apartment complex said the gardens they grew over the years were their only joy left after their complex was left untouched by the fire but surrounded by debris.

Now 7 months after the fire, some of the tenants said they are being forced to remove the gardens they have planted in the common areas around their apartment unit.

“I grew humongous tomato plants, and all kinds of different peppers, I shared all of my food with all of my neighbors,” Lorraine Wolfington, a 4-year resident of the complex said.

Wolfington explained when she moved into the building the former manager would encourage the tenants to plant what they desired. She said the complex houses people with disabilities and senior citizens, and the gardens would feed their bodies and nurture their mental health.

“I have post-traumatic stress disorder, and this helps me to get outside and be around people, without my garden I would be where I was 4 years ago, I was shut in, I didn’t talk to anyone,” Wolfington said.

When you look out of Wolfington’s bedroom window, you can see the devastation left behind by the fire. Across the street, hundreds of homes burned down and Wolfington shared, the view had become a depressing sight.

“My grandson built me this (a stand with four birdhouses on it), he put it in front of my bedroom window, so I didn’t have to look at the devastation, it is very hard to see,” Wolfington said. “He put the birdhouses up for me to look at, and now they want to destroy that as well.”

Wolfington isn’t alone.

News 10 also spoke with Rosanna Piselli, a 2-year resident of the complex shared gardening around her unit was her coping mechanism.

“I have been disabled for a long time and there were times I couldn’t walk, I was a diabetic for 42 years, I have complications all the time, so I am stuck here at this complex, but I love to walk my dog and pittle in the yard, it's healing,” Piselli said.

Piselli explained the gardens also served as a way for the tenants to socialize with each other, which she said is crucial for their wellbeing.

“I have been here for over three years and they let me do by hobby and now I ain’t got nothing, I can’t do nothing, I am handicapped and I fell and hurt myself while trying to move everything they wanted me to,” Marty Martin, a disabled Veteran resident of the complex said.

Martin explained he was a former carpenter and would make outdoor wood furniture on his small patio. He said he was told by the incoming management to remove his equipment and materials, or he would be given a written warning.

“I served back in Korea, fought for protection here and now I can’t have my way to do things for my health,” Martin said. “I got to have something to do to keep my body moving, I am 85-years-old and if I just sat here, I’ll get stiff, lazy and I’ll probably die.”

The three tenants said they were hesitant to speak out over fear of retaliation and losing their homes, but shared their angst drove them to speak out.

The tenants shared the documents given to them on April 1, which states the property is in the process of being bought by Viridian Management Inc.

The document, which has the company’s stamp on it reads, “we were notified recently that the closing date for the upcoming acquisition has been pushed back to July 8th, 2021.”

The company sent a separate document on April 15 regarding the upcoming renovations.

In that separate document, the company wrote, “additionally, it is important to note all the plants/vegetation in the common area are under the regulation of Patio Village staff, the property common areas are not part of your leased unit space.”

News 10 reached out to the management on-site, who directed us to Viridian Management Inc. Several calls, emails, and direct messages were sent to Viridian Management Inc. and the president of the company, we have yet to hear back.