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In My Mother’s Garden By Cheryll Boswell

Robin Burns at Elloras Garden

In my mother’s garden are rows and rows of vegetables that range from crowder peas to green beans, tomatoes and okra. A host of other crops have also been planted and replanted as the growing season changes from spring to fall.  Located on the Southside of Peoria, it’s an oasis in an area that is coined a food desert. Ellora’s Garden was created to help people eat healthy while supplying the food pantry at a local church with fresh vegetables. Having lived in her neighborhood for over fifty-five years and seeing the impact of change in Peoria’s Southside, this garden provides more than food. It also helps to improve the aesthetics of the community.

In the middle of a pandemic, my mother’s garden brings peace to those who visit all while feeding their soul. Gardening is not a pretty job. It is rewarding and offers calming effects on one’s mental capacity.  The ability to put a shovel in the ground, plant a seed and see the rewards of that labor go from seed to table is gratifying. Unbeknownst to her, my mother’s garden has the ability to settle anxiety and reduce stress for some who visit. For others that may visit my mother’s garden, just walking up and down the rows and picking vegetables for dinner that night is a way to unwind after work.  No checkout lines, no customers or cashiers to deal with.  Quiet moments in a garden are healing.

In my mother’s garden are both community and simple environmental benefits. When the garden was planted three years ago, the idea of reducing negative environmental impacts such as storm water run offs were not on her agenda. Ellora’s Garden is doing their part by not overwhelming the City’s sewer system. It is one of those invaluable results to the City, and the environment. Though this community garden is on privately owned property, it has help to improve the community’s beauty. On this little corner, the lots are mowed, sidewalks are swept, and the flowers are blooming.

In my mother’s garden is wisdom. There is an old saying you are never too old to learn or too young to put your hands in the soil. Gardening teaches patience and to be watchful. Gardening teaches you how to be thrifty and more than anything, gardening teaches you how to trust.  This little urban garden is promoting healthy eating, encouraging community development, and promoting academic achievement to high school students, and Ellora’s daughter is learning when to pick crowder peas.

The greatest thing in my mother’s garden is love. “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”  It is a passion she shares with her community.

Ellora Lyons garden is located at 1305 Martin St Peoria IL