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Cancer survivors wish and work for community garden in Memphis

  • Subject: [cg] Cancer survivors wish and work for community garden in Memphis
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 11:35:44 -0800 (PST)

Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, USA
(Memphis.online)

Cathryn Stout 
Faces & Places


Gardening helps survivors thrive
2005 - a fresh start after successful fight vs. cancer


"My biggest dream is to get a community garden in
Collierville. That's one of my 'I wants.'

- Juanita Fant, an avid gardener, thought her
gardening days were behind her after a severe car
accident seven years ago left her wheelchair-bound.
Today she still gardens on her 5-acre "piece of
heaven" on Main Street and serves on the Town
Beautiful Commission.


Elizabeth Blaylock said that 2005 is going to be her
year. "I'm going to be healthy and take care of myself
... I'm not going to sit around this year."

Blaylock was diagnosed with breast cancer in August
2003. She battled and defeated the disease in 2004.
Now in 2005, she's looking forward to rediscovering
life.

The 10-year Collierville resident who lives on Sugar
Lane credits her sweet disposition to a great support
system, which is why she ended 2004 with a thank-you
party attended by 25 friends and family members.
Attending the celebration were Alan, her husband of 22
years, daughter Lauren, 21, and close friends Cathy
Dormer and Julie Nations.

She said she's put her disease behind her. "Cancer is
not coming back. I'm not going to let it," she said
defiantly, adding that she is looking forward to
spring when she can watch her lilies and azaleas
bloom.

Juanita Fant also can't wait for spring. Fant, an avid
gardener like Blaylock, survived her own personal
hardship seven years ago.

Fant spent 202 days in the hospital after a severe car
accident on Park and Getwell. The doctors gave her
little chance of survival, a 1 percent chance, to be
exact.

"If it hadn't been for the people in Collierville
praying for me and donating blood, I wouldn't have
made it," she said.

Today, Fant is 72 years old, and though
wheelchair-bound, she has a cheerful spirit that can't
be restrained.

Fant and her husband, Frank, have been married 55
years. They moved to Collierville in the 1980s and
opened Fant Nursery on Poplar were Starbucks now sits.
After the accident she sold the nursery, which has
since moved to become Morgreen Nursery and Landscape,
and she thought that the better part of her gardening
days was behind her.

That is until former mayor Herman Cox appointed the
master gardener to the Town Beautiful Commission in
1995. Mayor Linda Kerley has since extended that term
to a lifetime appointment.

She splits her time between Town Beautiful projects
and her own garden. On the grounds of her 5-acre home
on Main Street that she calls "a little piece of
heaven," she plants tomatoes every spring, plus
pansies, onions and sometimes eggplant.

"My biggest dream is to get a community garden in
Collierville," she said. "That's one of my 'I wants.'
"

She said a successful community garden would take at
least 25 acres and the space would be well used by the
27 master gardeners and the host of apartment dwellers
and zero-lot owners.

Plus, she added, it's a good way to plant the seeds of
friendships.

Fant and Blaylock have never met, but Fant's dream of
neighbor meeting neighbor in a community garden might
be the catalyst that brings these two survivors and
others together.

As Fant said, "I never met a gardening person I didn't like."


______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


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