PRENTISS AND PATRICIA MITCHELL care for the vegetable garden they planted for the residents of Cairo’s Magnolia Place Senior Living facility. The couple plan to plant a spring and fall garden for the residents of the assisted living facility on South Broad Street.
Residents of Magnolia Place of Cairo Senior Living are enjoying watching fresh produce grow right outside their back door and will soon be tasting the fruits of a local couple’s labors.
Prentiss and Patricia Mitchell have been coping with the stress of COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place by expanding their community service and volunteering to serve others.
The couple recently decided to move forward on a project their Sunday School class, the Burleigh Law, at Cairo First United Methodist Church, had discussed taking on just weeks before the pandemic ended in-person worship at local churches.
“We had talked about the idea of planting a vegetable garden for the residents of Magnolia Place. With the pandemic hitting, we didn’t get to move forward with our plans as a class, but Prentiss and I decided to go ahead with it,” Patricia Mitchell said this week.
Prentiss built the raised bed and with the help of the Mitchell’s yard man, A.J. Harrison, the constructed box was moved to Magnolia Place from the Mitchell’s southeast Cairo home.
The couple planted three varieties of tomatoes, red and green bell pepper, eggplant, squash, zucchini, fresh basil and thyme and a few petunias for color, according to Patricia Mitchell.
The Mitchells check in on the garden frequently to water and attend to issues. Prentiss Mitchell was dealing with an insect issue this week.
The couple says that activities director Mary Stewart of Magnolia Place also helps to make sure the garden is watered and attended in between visits by the Mitchells.
“It is really taking off. The plants are growing like gangbusters and they are producing,” Patricia Mitchell said.
Mrs. Mitchell is not a stranger to the Magnolia Place residents and staff. She and nearby neighbor and fellow Methodist Linda Wood had been spending a great deal of time at the senior living facility prior to the shelter-in-place order and would sing and play the piano for residents, play Bible trivia and share refreshments provided by the two women, who are interested in community service and volunteering.
It was during these every-other-week visits that some of the residents shared with Patricia Mitchell that they used to have a garden out back and how they would love to have one again.
“We decided that was something we could do and got to work on,” she said.
“The vegetable garden has been a source of enjoyment to our residents. The bright colors add to the beauty of the courtyard! A few residents and I have spoken how the garden inspires us to remember that life will go on and God is in control! It is fun for them to watch their ‘babies’ grow every day. The garden gives them something to look forward to. We are so thankful for our volunteers! This garden began just at the right time! God knows what He is doing!” said Magnolia Place Executive Director Brande Strickland.
The Mitchells say they plan to plant a fall crop at Magnolia Place later this year. “This is something we want to keep up in the spring and fall. We love doing it,” Patricia Mitchell said.