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There’s a saying that goes ‘gardening adds years to your life and life to your years’. If that’s true, then the Marvin’s are going to be living a long life. After acquiring the property next to them, the question then became what to do with it. “We wanted to make something that we didn’t have to mow, so we thought to do a garden and it just bloomed from there,” Anita Marvin said.
After having extra vegetables and other garden items, the couple decided to make a share garden. “We were just going to do veterans and senior citizens and when we opened it to the public, it did great.”
Anyone in the community can leave any extra from their gardens on the table to share with others. The table has been filled with tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, apples, onions, aloe vera, peaches, butternut squash and garlic. “We’ll have pumpkins this year, we’ve got twelve hills growing of them.”
The share garden is not only for the community to share their vegetables, but in a small shed by the alley is the home to the Marvin’s goats, Maude and Mable. The goats, named after Anita’s grandmothers, have become a main attraction at the garden. People of various ages ranging from as young as six months old to as old as ninety-six have made a visit. “We put up a cheerios dispenser so people can feed them,” Marvin said.
The Chrisman Head start has also made trips to visit the goats and the share garden as well. The students rode in a fifty-five gallon drum, cut and painted to look like ladybugs. “We made fairy gardens with them and sent them home with goody bags and a coloring book of goats.”
The students were also able to plant sunflower seeds in the garden, wherever they chose to plant them. “We left them where they planted it, so there may be some flowers where we didn’t design them to be at, but we’re going to leave it because it’s kind of cool,” Anita said.
Part of the share garden is also sharing any flowers that Anita may have, that others don’t. “I’ve had a lot of people just wanting a start the black hollyhocks that you don’t hardly see anymore.”Anita will get the seeds from the hollyhocks and send them to those who requested them. “If I have an abundance of flowers that I’m going to pull out, I’m very thankful that people can use them in their garden.”
The garden also is enjoyed by the Marvin’s older grandchildren. The children help plant and cut their own flowers. “We’ll just hop on the golf cart and make bouquets to take to the city office, the Philathea House. The girls will just knock on the door and give an elderly person a flower,” Anita said. The she-shed, also in the main garden is the kids’ project area. “We’ve got easels and paint. We read books in there. They love it.”
Making memories with her grandchildren is Anita’s main focus when it comes to their visits. “I want to think of at least one thing every year that the kids and I can grow on together that they have a good memory and say ‘hey, I did this at my Nana’s house’.”
One memory she has made is making hollyhock dolls with one of her granddaughters. The hollyhocks are pulled off, then each part of the plant is used to make a different part on the doll, with toothpicks.
Anita used to do this as a child and laughed at a memory she had, “You make a princess, then of course you cry because they die at the end of the night because you didn’t give it enough water.”
Much like everyone else, the memories were in jeopardy when strong storms blew through town. A giant tree in the home’s backyard was taken down.
This was a tree that had been on the property since Marvin was a little girl. The tree also took out a gazebo that had the bricks from her parents’ bedroom featured in the design. With nothing else harmed, it leaves the Marvin’s thankful that they still have the share garden.
In the future, Anita hopes to have a flower cutting garden where visitors can cut a bouquet of flowers and be able to have a picnic. “It’s wonderful. People pull up on their golf cart. It’s a good edition down here.”
For this year’s project, the Marvin’s purchased a butterfly house, something that they’ve always wanted to do. Three years ago, they began planting milkweed.
“I researched and I’m waiting for the monarchs to come,” Anita told us.
Once the monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweed leaves, the plan is to take the leaves with the eggs and place them in the butterfly house with extra milkweed and water. The monarchs will then begin the process of their lives as a caterpillar, make their chrysalis, then hatch into the beautiful monarchs you see flying around town.
After they hatch, the monarchs wings will still be wet, so they will take time to dry before they can fly. “I want the grand kids to be there and we can release them.”
If you have any surplus of vegetables or other plants, be sure to stop by the share garden and don’t forget to feed the goats!