Verna’s vegetable garden
There is nothing better than produce from Southwestern Ontario – in particular Chatham Kent where acres and acres of farm land sprawl across our well know flat landscape. Meadow Park Chatham's resident Verna Chalcraft made a living farming and it’s in her blood.
In the spring she and a close family friend, Bob McGee, spent a day prepping a raised flower bed in the home’s back garden to allow Verna to get her hands dirty again by planting a vegetable garden. The duo spent a good part of the day prepping and planting onions, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, cucumbers & peppers. Since that day Verna has been tending her beautiful garden each and every day.
Program Director, Brenda Lucier and RFSC, Lydia Swant took a walk with Verna to check out all her hard work. The two were amazed at what they found. “Verna not only showed us her garden she took us on a tour of the garden.”
Over the spring and summer the garden has taken on a bit of a facelift. Between the help with weeding and cleaning up from the UCC students at the high school next door, there were other transformations. New little bird houses hand-painted by the residents have been hung in the trees and an over-grown pond that has been restored and decorated by Verna with little frog ornaments. The highlight however, is Verna’s vegetable garden. As the three toured the garden Verna recalled working in the fields to support her family. “My son knew that we needed to make sure it was a good crop because he needed school clothes and supplies. Farming isn’t like it is now with all the big machines. We used to pick cucumbers by hand down on our knees in the dirt.”
Chatham-Kent is a community that has strong rural roots and many residents at the 100 bed long-term care home can echo very similar stories whether it was cash crops, cattle farms or tobacco farms just to name a few. The overall comments would echo Verna’s words – long days and hard work. When asked if she still loves to garden after all those years of back breaking work she responded, “I love gardening and I’ll be doing it until the day I die.”
Verna will be sharing her bumper crop with her fellow table-mates in the West Café. So far they have enjoyed cucumbers and onions. Thank you Verna for making our garden extra special and beautiful.