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Gardening with Gutner | Joan Benoit Samuelson

Olympic Gold Medalist and TD Beach to Beacon founder Joan Benoit Samuelson shares why gardening plays an important role in her life.

MAINE, USA — Gardening with Gutner learned that Olympic Gold Medalist and TD Beach to Beacon founder Joan Benoit Samuelson was a master gardener, so of course we had to talk to her. On a beautiful summer day, Chief Meteorologist Todd Gutner and crew visited the Maine icon in her garden. 

Joan explained the importance gardening plays in her life while standing next to a bed of blooming peonies. 

"It's a lot of fun, a lot of work. It keeps me in shape. People think I lift weights, but I just work in the gardens. I'm very holistic with my training. That goes for the running and the cycling and the skiing. Everything. This is what really grounds me and brings me home," Joan revealed. 

She shared that her mother had a perennial garden but was not a vegetable gardener, which is what she wanted to do. Joan said that, despite her primary focus on growing a food garden, she eventually decided to add perennials, which included many peonies. 

"What I like about this garden is the peonies, and I learned how to care for the peonies and all my plants organically through the master gardener program offered through the University of Maine [Cooperative] Extension Service," Joan said. 

Gutner followed Joan from her perennial garden to her fenced-in vegetable garden. 

"You know, once the peonies come and go, I pretty much lose sight of this garden and spend most of my time in the vegetable garden because that feeds the family, it feeds the neighbors, and it feeds the local food pantry," Joan said. 

Once in her vegetable garden, it was revealed that the master gardener uses eelgrass that she harvests from the ocean to mulch her vegetable beds.

"This is my signature crop. This is my celery, and this is what really likes the eelgrass," she said. "Because it's so stringy, it absorbs all the salt from the eelgrass, and it's really tasty."

When it was pointed out that she couldn't eat all the food that she was growing, Joan shared that she gives a lot of the vegetables to her neighbors and the local food pantry. 

On Aug. 6, the TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race, which was founded by the Olympic gold medalist, will be run in Cape Elizabeth. It will be the first time the race has been run in person and not virtually since the pandemic began. 

"This will be our 24th. We're not counting the virtual years, 24 this year and the big 25 next year," Joan said. 

According to the website, there are still slots available to run the race, and there is still a big need for volunteers. You can sign up for both on the website.

Watch more Gardening With Gutner: 

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