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GROW, THEN EAT YOUR VEGGIES ... Master Gardener Vera Kark will give step-by-step directions on starting a vegetable garden on March 11, 1:30-3 p.m. She will walk students though the process, from seed starting to harvest. The free event will be held at the nonprofit senior center Avenidas, 450 Bryant St., Palo Alto. Information: Go to online.activenetwork.com/Avenidas and type in barcode "7845."

FAMILY FRIENDLY ... How does Palo Alto stack up as a place for young families to live? The city recently was ranked No. 22 out of 474 cities nationally that were studied by the folks at apartmentlist.com. They used data on safety (violent and property crimes), housing costs (percentage of income needed to rent a two-bedroom apartment), school quality (high school graduation rates) and child friendliness (percentage of population under 18 years of age). The total score weighted the four factors: 35 percent for safety, 30 percent for housing, 25 percent for schools and 10 percent for children. Palo Alto, surprising to some, got an excellent score of 99.6 percent on housing cost but a 38.7 percent on child friendliness. The analysis is posted at apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/

HELP AT HOME ... Local seniors and people who are homebound can get free help with household tasks the week of May 2-6. Volunteers from the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors and neighboring Realtor associations will be performing cleaning and maintenance tasks, such as replacing light bulbs, changing furnace filters, cleaning windows, turning over mattresses, installing smoke detector batteries, and other light housekeeping. Seniors must apply for the free assistance by April 8, according to an announcement from the Realtor associations. The volunteer effort "is our way of thanking our seniors for all they have done for our communities," Eileen Giorgi of Silicon Valley Association of Realtors stated in the press release. The annual community-service program was started locally in 2001. Last year 130 volunteers helped 97 local senior households. Seniors residing in Atherton, East Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Woodside and other South Bay cities can apply. Info: 408-200-0100.

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