Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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Food, Flowers, and Fond Memories


Submitted by Lutheran Hillside Village

A garden started as a hobby by former Lutheran Hillside Village resident, Merwyn French, in 2003 has been named in his honor. This garden produces food used in the kitchen at Lutheran Hillside Village (LHV) and is a source of great joy for the dozens of residents who cultivate it. A plaque declaring the Merwyn French Garden was installed during a ceremony at the garden on June 26, 2017 to recognize his contributions over the years. He died earlier this year, leaving a legacy of beautiful plants and delicious homegrown vegetables.

“Merwyn was essentially the sole worker who created the garden that all our residents now enjoy,” said Dave Greer, a Lutheran Hillside Village (LHV) resident and coordinator for garden plot assignments. “When he first moved here, there was no garden on the LHV campus. He started one on a vacant property that LHV owned nearby, and Merwyn and his friend Bill Lange cultivated it for their gardening hobby. After getting approval to start a small garden on the campus itself, Merwyn started and expanded that small plot over the next several years to become the large garden that it is today.”

“Merwyn worked tirelessly to make the garden attractive and was quick to offer gardening space to current and incoming residents,” Greer continued. “We now have 37 designated plots, mostly with in-ground railings, fencing around and within the garden, buried water lines with strategically located hydrants and perimeter floral plantings. From this large garden, Merwyn generously shared his harvests with other residents, to their great joy.”

At the June 26 dedication ceremony, members of the Woodchucks, a group of LHV residents operating an on-site woodworking shop, installed the plaque they made for the garden in Merwyn’s honor. It is clear that the Merwyn French Garden will continue to grow food, flowers, and fond memories for many more years to come.

For more information on the Merwyn French Garden, the Woodchucks, and other activities at Lutheran Hillside Village, please call 309-692-4600.

Photos by Gary Nixon