Ste. Genevieve transforms old land to new community garden

Ste. Genevieve transforms old land to new community garden
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)

STE. GENEVIEVE, MO (KFVS) - As you drive through Downtown Ste Genevieve, you'll notice the very old and historic buildings.

But just north of the downtown district is something entirely new about to sprout up.

The new Ste Genevieve Community Garden is now underway as a resident today planted the first seeds.

"I think we can have the old buildings and the history here is very unique," Elaine Mooney said. "We want to make Ste Genevieve a place that everybody wants to live. Young people and old people and that tourists want to visit."

What used to be an unused plot of land is now blossoming into a new area where residents can lease out a portion of land and plant a garden of their very own.

It all started with Ste Genevieve resident Elaine Mooney who had the idea of growing her own garden last year. However, her yard was too small for one.

"My yard is small and so I love to garden and I love the vegetable garden," Mooney said. "I just thought I can't be the only one that would like to plant a few things and have a small yard here in town."

Mooney then contacted some Master Gardeners in the area and Tiffany Williams-Cobleigh at the University of Missouri Extension office in Ste Genevieve.

Together, they contacted the city about the unused plot of land.

"For years it's been empty and kind of ugly," Williams-Cobleigh said. "The city has been great to work with on this and pretty agreeable."

The City of Ste. Genevieve at the time was keeping up on mowing the property. But they let the University of Missouri Extension office lease it out for free indefinitely as long as they take care of the property.

We met up with Mooney, Mooney's son Dominick, Williams-Cobleigh and a master gardener at the site of the garden where they had an informal kick off celebration by planting the first seeds in Mooney's garden plot.

"I think gardening is therapeutic. It feels good to get outside and to grow something," Mooney said. "I also think it could help the tourists. We're half a block from the main downtown area."

Dominick was busy filling up some soil and helped plant some lettuce and watered it with his mom.

"Kids love to play around in the dirt and to run around and feel free and to grow something at the same time," Mooney said. "And maybe they might even try something new like asparagus on the table."

Mooney says its important for children to understand where they get their food at and educate them in the importance of gardening.

"I grew up knowing where my food came from," Mooney added. "Kids nowadays don't have that many opportunities. They just go to the grocery store and think that's where food comes from."

For Mooney, she feels gardening is a therapeutic escape and very enjoyable. She lost her brother in February of 2015 and says that gardening is a way to grieve and heal from his untimely death.

For Ste Genevieve, this is currently the only community garden in their city. But already people here feel it's already making an impact and also a great addition for the city.

"We started this project for the community garden in Ste. Genevieve back in October," Williams-Cobleigh said. "And now there are people in Farmington that are reaching out saying that they think they want to start a community garden."

Williams-Cobleigh said their first year's goal is to lease out six plots. They already have four leased out and all six 10' by 20' plots are already tilled and ready to go with room for dozens more on the land.

"Any good news for our community can hopefully spread and be good news or inspiration for others," Williams-Cobleigh said.

A Girl Scout in high school in Ste. Genevieve is also planning on helping out by putting in some benches and picnic tables in the new garden park.

"We also have a Boy Scout troop signed up to take a plot," Mooney said. "So the boys will learn how to grow some vegetables."

In addition to the benches and tables, bushes will be planted along the edge of the garden for anyone who wants to remember a loved one and dedicate a plaque to display.

Mooney plans on planting two apple trees and dedicate them for her brother as well.

The ultimate goal for this garden will be to bring together citizens of the community and thrive along side one another while each growing the garden of their choice.

Williams-Cobleigh said they are hopeful to turn this community garden into a city park in the years to come.

If anyone is interested in leading a plot, they can contact the University of Missouri Extension's office at 573-883-3548 or visit their website at

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