Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I learned in a Charlotte garden

There was so much that I didn’t say about Annie Patterson last week.
I wrote that she’s a new recruit to the Backyard Friendship Gardens program. She and others donate food they’ve grown for the nonprofit Friendship Trays meals on wheels program. More donors are needed.
I was inspired by the garden and what I learned about Patterson during my visit.
“There are two kinds of people,” Friendship Gardens Director Henry Owen said as he looked over the crops. “People who live in scarcity and people who live in abundance.”
Gardeners, Owen said, live in abundance.
It seems true when Patterson talks about her life, although abundance is not what many would see. The Camden, S.C., native was one of 12 children and lost her mother when she was 8, the year before she planted her first garden.
She finished 11th grade before coming to Charlotte and working for 28 years at an 80-unit Myers Park residence for seniors. She looked after the place and the people, she said. She’d do extra cleaning for some of the residents and other chores. Many times she wouldn’t accept anything in return, she said. That went on for years.
She decorated the building with flowers and houseplants and shared vegetables she’d grown.
She decided to buy a small house off Old Pineville Road some 20 years ago. The residents gave her a down payment – on the house and later on a car.
One man called the bank after her mortgage loan was denied. Finally, it went through.
At 79, Patterson still grows such a full garden that people drop by to see it, meet her or pick up gift baskets.
This year there were rows of peppers, okra and lima bean plants. She grew 10 rows of tomatoes and lots of eggplant, although she doesn’t care for either.
She grows them because she believes the abundance in her life comes from giving.