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Community garden is fertile ground for fresh food and friendships

Posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 10:01 am


hen Elsie and Virgil Miller moved to Monroe City’s senior housing unit from their farm two years ago, they knew they would miss their large garden.

Elsie Miller plants green beans at the Queen of the Prairie Community Garden. She and her sister, Alpha Jarman, can 60 or 70 quarts of beans and about 70 quarts of tomato and tomato juice, most of it raised at the Community Garden.


During their 50-plus years of marriage, the Millers always took pride in growing and canning their own food.

The Queen of the Prairie Community Garden at the west edge of town has become fertile grounds for the Millers and others who enjoy gardening but don’t have room for a garden. Provided by the George and Eva Jo Spalding Foundation, the free community garden is growing strong in its third year.

“This makes it nice,” Mrs. Miller says. She and her husband were the first couple to plant a garden at the community garden.


Unseasonably warm spring temperatures have made for exceptional growing conditions this year, Mrs. Miller says. “I think that’s the best potato patch we’ve ever had,” she says.

The Millers’ minister, Charles Grubb of Oakland Baptist Church, was busy tending an adjacent garden spot. Still active in the Shelby County Food Pantry, Pastor Grubb sees the need for families to have fresh produce. Volunteers provided food pantry recipients with up to eight packets of seed this spring, along with their monthly food allotment.

Some of the youngest gardeners include John and Reagan Quinn’s children who used the plot as a 4-H project last year. This year, Anne Marie and Rose have begun a new hobby-beekeeping-at the garden.

Mrs. Miller’s eye-popping zinnias and cannas  which outline her plot will provide bee pollen.

The Millers and Pastor Grubb said they are grateful to Spalding and his friends and family who make the plowed and fertilized land available at no charge to participants.

In addition to providing families with an ample supply of fresh produce, the garden cultivates the spirits of those who garden and produces many new friendships.