Montevallo seniors enjoy new garden

Published 4:51 pm Monday, May 16, 2011

Montevallo seniors at work in their new garden. (L-R) Rosa Deviner, Glenice Smitherman, Carolyn White, Tommie Lawley and Pearlie Conwell. (Contributed)

By CATHERINE LEGG / Community Columnist

The Montevallo seniors are excited about their new project. They’ve planted a raised-bed garden on the grounds of the Grady R. Parker Senior Center. The garden is only about 9-by-9 feet, but it holds an amazing number of plants. There are flowers: marigolds, lavender, sunflowers and a beautiful lavender cross-poppy (a souvenir of one of their field trips) planted right in the center of the bed. There are herbs: sage, basil and rosemary. And then there are the vegetables: large and tiny tomatoes, cucumbers, two kinds of peppers, squash, zucchinis and okra.

The group is planning a lunch with tomato sandwiches and some of the other vegetables and herbs. They even hope to have enough to share.

“The garden is a wonderful thing,” said Rosa Deviner, the center manager. “It gets our people out to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, and we get that 15 minutes of vitamin D we all need.”

Pearlie Conwell, one of the participating seniors, said “It’s so relaxing: we come outside to the garden to see the new growth every day. We’re going to be well fed, have good health from the fresh vegetables and we get to enjoy the garden as one of God’s creations.”

University of Montevallo professor Dr. Kirby, who spearheaded the efforts, explained that the project was made possible by a grant from the Alabama Department of Health to the city of Montevallo Senior Adult Center. The project addressed nutrition and physical activity as well as the social and mental realms of wellness. The garden not only provides that physical activity, but is also the center around which nutritional learning plus social interaction can take place. The social interaction among the seniors will be enhanced through the project, and the garden, as a demonstration garden, will serve as a sustainable outreach to the Montevallo Elementary School. This would be an outreach program of two age groupings that have a lot to offer one another, and is logical due to the proximity of each.

The building of the garden was a joint project of Dr. Kirby’s UM kinesiology students, the city of Montevallo, community members and the seniors themselves. Boatright Railroad Products donated the crossties, and the seeds were given by Tractor Supply.

Visitors are most welcome. The seniors love to show and talk about their new garden.

Catherine Legg can be reached by email at