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Loss of legs doesn’t keep urban gardener from growing food for community


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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — Gauging by the near-constant laughter around him is pretty clear why Charlie Jones is such a favorite among the urban gardeners in the Cheatham Place housing development.

“Charlie is just a joy to be around,” Janet Arning said. Arning is a coordinator of the raised bed gardens that allow residents to grow their fruits and vegetables.

But Jones is not here for laughs but to work. Like his fellow gardeners, he tills the soil by hand, plants the seeds and waters, knowing which vegetables need the proper amount of sun.

It requires him to move around, even though he is physically unable to. Jones lost both his legs a few years ago due to circulation problems.

But that hasn’t kept him from using his wheelchair to get to the gardens.

When he arrives, he hoists himself up and into the beds. Often using a wooden board for support, he gets down into the dirt and goes to work.

“He’s just an inspiration to me, to his neighbors,” said Arning.

Jones’s longtime friend, Barbara Sadler, said that he always responds the same way when she offers to assist.

“He’ll basically tell you no. He’d rather do it himself,” Sadler said.

But Jones also knows, given his limited income, this is the best way to get vegetables and fruits for himself and his community.

“It’s so expensive so I decided to plant my own,” Jones said.

Jones said that while his challenges make gardening more complex, it just pushes him to be an inspiration.

“I can’t let life get me down. Because God put me here for a reason

and gardening is one of them,” Jones said.

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