Garden Forever

Changing the World One Garden at a Time

by Debra Landwehr Engle

Rodale Books
May 2003 ISBN: 1-57954-685-4 .

As a contributing writer for Country Home magazine, Debra Landwehr Engle has known that gardens are more than an open bed for planting flowers and vegetables. Gardens are gifts that are shared between gardeners and their communities. In her book, GRACE FROM THE GARDEN Changing the World One Garden at a Time (Rodale Books; May 2003) Engle shares her visions and that of twenty other gardeners across the country, who were inspired to use their gardens for a greater purpose.

In GRACE FROM THE GARDEN, Engle pays tribute to the people who make a difference in their communities by gardening and who actually began grassroots campaigns involving roots — and seeds, and garden trowels. Engle visited gardeners across the country, and viewed firsthand the way they tended to their plants and nurtured the lives of those around them. Each gardener began with a simple idea, which sprouted into a life-altering project. These gardeners didn’t set out to change the world, they simply wanted their plots of land to be of service. Some gardeners faced complex issues such as progressive systems of food production and distribution, helping abused children learn patience and nurturing, or forging bonds among people in multicultural neighborhoods.

GRACE FROM THE GARDEN is organized into five categories: gardens that teach, nourish, unite, inspire, and heal. It also includes an appendix in which the featured gardeners’ addresses, phone numbers, and websites are listed. Suggestions for adapting the ideas in the book, and learning more about the gardeners’ endeavors are also included. Among the stories featured:

  • A couple from Maine honored their departed spouses by transforming eight acres into a lush garden they share with residents of local nursing homes, who come to enjoy music, food and the beauty of the outdoors.
  • In Spokane, Washington, juvenile detention officers developed a unique program in which juvenile offenders work off community service hours in a local vegetable garden, learning to give back to others, rather than take from them.
  • Alabama’s Garden Angel program pairs a gardener with an elderly couple or person. The gardener takes care of the planting, maintenance and harvest of the summer’s bounty. This allows the elderly to stay self-sufficient, receive much-needed food, and gain a friendship that extends far beyond the garden.

In Engle’s words, “This is in no way meant to be a comprehensive or even representative list of gardeners. These are people I happened to find and who found me, and I’m guessing that for every one of them, there are thousands more. Although their stories vary widely, the gardeners share the same act of courage. They are willing to look at what needs to be changed…. They have taken the generosity of nature and spread it around. These people don’t tend their gardens. They are extensions of them.”

GRACE FROM THE GARDEN will inspire all with its important message that the simple act of gardening truly can change the world, one garden at a time.

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All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the author is strictly forbidden. To contact Ms. Engle, email