It takes a lot of planning &mdash; and planting &mdash; to create a Garden of Hope. &ldquo;All winter, I dream about it, plan it, source everything and start to grow the garden from seeds and cuttings,&rdquo; says Amy Barr, coordinator of JamesCare for Life&rsquo;s Garden of Hope, a 1.5-acre plot of land at Ohio State&rsquo;s Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory. All of that planning will soon pay off, as sweet corn, tomatoes and dozens of other vegetables, herbs and edible flowers begin to emerge from the soil. Registration Current and former cancer patients, as well as caregivers, are eligible to utilize the garden and its accompanying instruction. After orientation, participants normally harvest and take home a variety of crops on a weekly basis, from June to October, for two years. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the orientation will be online in 2021 (as it was in 2020), and members of the garden&rsquo;s team will do the harvesting. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll put everything in boxes, and our patients can drive in and open their trunks, and we&rsquo;ll load the produce,&rdquo; Barr says. While the number of participants was down slightly due to the pandemic last year, &ldquo;those who did participate actually came more often than in the past,&rdquo; Barr says, adding that the human connection &mdash; although masked and inside vehicles &mdash; was important during stressful times. The virtual orientation begins May 1. There are still slots open for this year, &ldquo;but you should sign up soon if you&rsquo;re interested,&rdquo; Barr says. Try something new While COVID-19 forced the garden to operate differently in 2020 (and again this year), physical distancing had the unintended result of convincing some people to give the program a try. &ldquo;In the past, because people harvested on their own, they might not try something they weren&rsquo;t familiar with,&rdquo; Barr says. &ldquo;Last year, we heard from a lot of people who said, &lsquo;Since you went to the trouble of growing and harvesting everything you put in our boxes, we&rsquo;ll try it.&rsquo; One woman told us that every time she got home it was like an episode of &ldquo;Chopped,&rdquo; and she had so much fun trying and figuring out how to use everything we gave her.&rdquo; To encourage more patients to give the garden a try, JamesCare for Life dietitians Candice Schreiber and Dena Champion adapted and created recipes for participants in 2020, and they will do so again this year. There will also be a new, private Facebook group for participants full of photos, information and recipes. A bouquet of flavor Edible flowers were new to the garden last year and quite popular. &ldquo;Patients told us they never knew they could make their salads look so beautiful or make scrambled eggs look like they were from a fancy restaurant brunch,&rdquo; Barr says. There will be nine varieties of edible flowers this year, including zinnias, nasturtium and calendula. &ldquo;One of my favorite recipes uses the petals in tacos,&rdquo; Barr says. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re so pretty, and it&rsquo;s exciting to cook with a flourish.&rdquo; Super foods Vegetables, herbs and edible flowers are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. A plant-based diet is healthy, highly recommended and can reduce the risk of cancer. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s important to fill your plate with all of the colors in the rainbow, and we have them here at the garden,&rdquo; Barr says. Adding variety Last year, Barr introduced ground cherries, which are &ldquo;a combination of a cherry tomato and a pineapple,&rdquo; she says. The sweet berries were quite popular, and this year, Barr and her team (student workers Kari Saunders and Christie Gales) will add a row of tomatillos. Marjoram and okra are also new additions this year, and edamame was so popular in 2020 that Barr will quadruple the yield this time. &ldquo;We always like to expand and try new things and offer more variety,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;But we&rsquo;ll always have everyone&rsquo;s favorites &mdash; sweet corn, a variety of tomatoes, green beans and other classics.&rdquo; Learn more about the Garden of Hope and register for a 2021 orientation session.