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Garden nurtures wisdom, friendships

Members of the St. Fiacre Garden Club of Pike and Crenshaw counties have "adopted" the young women at Troy Group Home and are teaching them about home gardening and the social graces. (Photo/Jaine Treadwell)

Being at the end of hoe handle isn’t exactly where most young women like to be on a sunny, fall afternoon. But the young women at the Troy Group Home aren’t complaining.

In just a single harvest season, they have gotten a taste of the good things that can be grown in a backyard vegetable garden and learned to appreciate the time and effort that it takes to make a garden productive.

And, they give all the credit to their teachers, the ladies of the St. Fiacre Garden Club of Pike and Crenshaw counties.

“St Fiacre is the patron saint of gardeners,” said Jamie Henegan, club member. “Most people think that St. Francis is the patron saint of gardeners and he may have protected the birds and animals of the garden but St. Fiacre, an Irish monk, is actually the patron saint of gardeners.”

And, much like St. Fiacre, the ladies of the garden club want others to experience the joy of gardening and the gratitude of the harvest.

The young women at the Troy Group Home and the ladies of the St. Fiacre Garden Club are working hand in hand this week preparing their backyard garden for fall planting.

“We had a very productive summer garden,” one of the young gardeners said. “We had enough that we were able to give away some of our vegetables.”

The summer garden flourished with tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, watermelons, cantaloupe, squash, basil and mint.

But now it’s time to pull up the straggling plants and prepare the soil for the fall garden of turnips, collards, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and onions.

“With grants from Woodmen of the World and the Garden Clubs of America we were able to purchase the materials for the garden bed and the soil,” said Alma Bodiford, club vice president. “Lowe’s gave us a discount on all of that. We are excited that we now have a composter that Tractor Supply aided us in purchasing. And Bonnie Plant Farm provides us with the plants so this is really a community garden.”

The young women of the Troy Group Home explained that the wilting plants from the summer garden will be put in the composter along with shredded paper and fruit and vegetable scraps and left to turn the waste into compost.

The compost, which is rich in nutrients, will then be used in their garden as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer and as a natural pesticide.

The young women were busy pulling up garden “leftovers,” turning the soil and filling the composter and there were smiles all around.

“They really enjoy the interaction with the St. Fiacre Garden Club members,” said Susan Haug, Troy Group Home director. “These ladies provide them with experiences they probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Sometimes they have picnics along with their meetings but most often the ladies bring flower arrangements, china and crystal and they have a formal dinner. They teach them about good manners and proper etiquette as well as the skills it takes to build a garden bed, skills such as drilling holes and driving nails. And the girls really seem to enjoy all they do.”

The St. Fiacre Garden Club “adopted” the young women at the Troy Group Home about five years ago. Bodiford said the relationship is mutually beneficial.

“They learn from us and we learn from them,” she said. “We looking forward to meeting with them and hopefully they look forward to our visits. We work together in friendship.”