Valdosta Daily Times


June 16, 2013

Children help garden, community grow

VALDOSTA — Elizabeth Redden wanted a garden. She wanted to eat a healthier diet. Confined to a wheelchair, she wants to lose weight, needs to lose weight, but her health problems along with husband Hoyt’s blindness, made starting a garden impossible.

Jane Teasley spent the past school year working as a substitute teacher who also spends her after-school hours working with children in the Boys and Girls Club of Valdosta. She had re-started the Boys & Girls Club’s Garden Club program for youngsters ranging in age from 5 to 12 years old, but Teasley also wanted the children to work in the community. She wanted her young students to see how gardening and fresh foods can help not only the gardener but others.

This is the story of a garden, but it is also the story of how two needs were met in a small backyard in Valdosta. How a physically challenged couple has come to love the weekly visits of nearly two dozen children and how those youngsters have learned a sense of community by, what Jane Teasley calls, “planting it forward.”

It is a story of not only how a garden grows but how friendships and a sense of community can grow.

Striving for Normal

Hoyt and Elizabeth Redden have been married for 35 years. He is blind. She is confined to a wheelchair, fighting several health concerns, including her weight.

Despite everything, the Reddens try living as normal a life as possible. For several years, Hoyt operated the concession room in the Downtown Valdosta federal building. By touch, he knows how to count money, has operated a business and lived as independently as possible.

Hoyt is a quiet man but he knows how to handle himself. Elizabeth says it is frustrating when they go shopping or out to eat and people speak to her instead of him.

“They’ll ask me what he wants to eat,” Elizabeth says. “He’s sitting right there. They need to ask him but it’s like they overlook him. He knows what he wants to order. ... Or he’ll hand them money at the register and they go to hand his change to me.”

“It’s my money,” Hoyt says, with a slight chuckle. “They should hand my money to me.”

 About five years ago, Hoyt left the job at the federal building. Habitat for Humanity helped the couple realize a long-time dream of having a house of their own. For the past four years, they have lived in the Habitat house. Caregivers come to the house to help the Reddens with some daily needs.

Rising weight aggravated Elizabeth’s health concerns. She began dieting and has seen steady results, she says. “This time last year, I was 475 and now I’m down to 414.”

Battling to lose weight, she has turned to healthier foods. She buys vegetables and fruits. Elizabeth wished she could have a backyard garden to grow vegetables for Hoyt’s and her dinner table.

A garden to go with their house and their new lives, but a garden is something they are unable to do alone.

Text Only
  • 140418-AR_Paul_Townsend001.jpg Graphic novelist draws on inspiration

    A few moments with graphic artist Paul Townsend is all you need to understand that his mind swirls with stories that he’s willing to explore on paper – no matter where they take him.

    April 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pompeys Pillar.JPG Pompeys Pillar

    Along their journey west to the Pacific and return east to St. Louis, Lewis and Clark left numerous marks recording their presence in order to validate a claim to the land for the United States.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • 1vsusr2014.jpg seen.yer-shoh

    Two of the most revealing exhibits each year at the Valdosta State University Fine Art Gallery are the fall and spring senior art shows.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • Film Review Draft Day_Rich copy.jpg ‘Draft Day’ scores a field goal at the theater

    Our reviewer looks at the movies "Draft Day'" and "Rio 2."

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • emerging1.jpg Emerging Artists: VSU shines spotlights on student performers

    Three years ago, Valdosta State University Theatre & Dance created a twist on its seasons’ conclusions.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • bicycle safety.jpg SGMC, Kohl’s to host Bike Smart safety event

    SGMC, Kohl’s Department Store, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and Safe Kids Lowndes County will host Bike Smart!

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140410-AR-Wake_Compound001.jpg Bringing wakeboards to Lowndes

    In college, many dream of their future career paths and, while some may seem far fetched, some people are able to make theirs a reality. Luke Tilt and Quinn Silvernale were able to do just that.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140401-Ballet003.jpg Beautiful Dancers

    The Ballet School in Valdosta offers children with special needs the chance to live out their dreams of being a dancer. For many, this may have seemed like a far fetched dream given their physical limitations, but as the Ballet School proves, there is no such thing as a physical limitation.

    April 13, 2014 5 Photos

  • Dido and Aeneas 1.jpg VSU Opera, Chamber Singers Present ‘Dido and Aeneas’ April 19-20

    The Valdosta State University Department of Music will present “Dido and Aeneas” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 20, in the West Hall Rotunda. Seating is limited to 100 people per performance.

    April 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film Review Captain A_Rich copy.jpg A salute to ‘Captain America’

    Our reviewer looks at "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," 'The Grand Budapest hotel' and "Bad Words."

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
     View Results