Seniors maintain, enjoy own vegetable garden

Aaron Krause • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:50 PM

When leaders of an Indiana church set up a parsonage for its pastor, the Rev. Quentin Battiste and his wife Rachel, they included a vegetable garden with the property.

"Neither one of us knew beans about gardening," said Rachel Battiste, who lives in Norwalk's Carriage House and is a member of its garden club. "At first it was overwhelming."

But, through trial and error the city couple, formerly of Indiana, learned the hobby. Today, Rachel Battiste helps tend the Carriage House's vegetable garden. The pastor, former minister at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Norwalk, died in 2001.

Rachel Battiste is one of several residents who have made the home's new vegetable garden their project. They feed it with fertilizer every two weeks, water it every day and, of course, eat its produce. They also accept donations from fellow residents at happy hour for materials to maintain the garden, which grows cucumbers, pickles, squash, string beans, tomatoes, peppers, peas, onions, corn and cabbage.

Residents have posted a sign asking people not to pick one of the cucumbers yet; they want to see how long the already lengthy vegetable will grow.

John Barron, a life-long gardener, Carriage House resident and garden club member, can't wait to eat the celebrity tomatoes.

"Oh heavens, yes," he said, adding they should be ready the latter part of August or the early part of September.

The club members already had salsa from other tomatoes they had harvested, as well as onions.

Among the first crops residents planted were peas and onions, which survived the freezing temperatures at the time.

"That was quite a surprise," Barron said.

Fellow resident and garden enthusiast Max McCrillis enjoys eating the produce, but he prefers not to dig in the dirt too much work at this point in his life, he said.

McCrillis' wife of 72 years, Marian, said she doesn't dig, either.

"I just leave it to the men folks," she said.

After the couple got married, however, they tended a big garden, complete with sweet corn, pickles, tomatoes and potatoes.

"He did most of the work," Marian said.

Now, they're content to sit back and drink in the beauty of the multi-colored flowers gracing the beautiful gardens in the Carriage House's backyard. "We all enjoy that," Battiste said.

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