Son starts communit y garden to honor late father
by Thomas Fraser
Maryville Daily Times - Maryville,TN,USA
of The Daily Times Staff
John Weston used to make the rounds around Home Avenue, distributing his homegrown vegetables to the poor.
Now, a year after Weston's death, his son wants to be more like him.
The graded acre at Home Avenue and Haig Street is testimony.
It's the future site of Maryville's first modern incarnation of a community garden.
``My father set such a good example, in living what he believed,'' Tom Weston said. ``He was an advocate for the poor. He was always doing things to back up what he believed.''
Tom Weston spoke as he stood outside the headquarters of Weston Paving on Haig Street.
``I didn't feel like I was living what I believed,'' he said.
His father started the business in the 1960s as a ``shade-tree mechanic,'' said Ruth Weston, John Weston's widow.
But he always found time to garden, and share his bounty. Ruth said he gave directions for the disposition of onions and lettuce while on his deathbed. He died in April 2003.
The John Weston Sr. Memorial Food Garden will be a fitting tribute, Ruth said.
``John liked being around people, he'd like being in a community garden,'' she said.
The garden will be run as a nonprofit corporation with a three-person board of directors that includes Ruth and Tom Weston and his brother, John Weston Jr., and feature 49 individual 24-foot-by-32-foot plots, complete with spigots and landscaped borders.
Plots will be available to all comers for a requested donation, and the stipulation that 20 percent of all produce must be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank for distribution to area food pantries. Plans call for the garden to join the American Community Garden Association.
Not only will the garden allow up to 50 urban dwellers to maintain a food plot, one plot will be managed as an educational asset for the child tenants of the nearby Maryville Housing Authority
It will also provide a practical addition to the green space of the city.
``We think it's good for the environment, and that would go along with John's conviction,'' said Ruth Weston.
The Maryville City Council Tuesday approved an amendment to the city's Land Use Development Regulations to allow for tracts of land to be leased or used for nonprofit gardens.
``It has not been simple,'' said John Weston Jr. of the efforts to establish a community garden.
The Westons have funded the initial garden creation themselves, at times using labor from the paving company.
The clock is ticking on spring sowing, Tom Weston conceded while surveying the site early this week.
``I hope gardening season doesn't get here before we get done,'' he said.