Paige Shoemaker uses her grant from William Jewell College to create Miller Park Central  garden

Paige Shoemaker in the Miller Park Center garden

Thanks to a Lee’s Summit R-7 graduate, a grant from her college and an innovative idea, Miller Park Center has its own community garden featuring vegetables, fruit and flowers. Paige Shoemaker, a 2014 Lee’s Summit High School graduate, was recently recognized by William Jewell College for the unique way she used a grant from the college to create the local garden.

Shoemaker’s goal was to use the Journey Grant to develop a community garden designed to help students understand where food comes from and what is involved in gardening. Her plans took shape on the Miller Park Campus, behind the G.R.E.A.T. (Gaining Real-life Experience and Training) program mobile units.

During 2017, she created five 4-foot-by-12-foot raised garden beds for vegetables, strawberries and flowers with the help of many volunteers. The project, known as the Wait and Seed School and Community Garden, also includes two peach trees.

In her proposal for the grant, Shoemaker shared that she would dedicate two years to establishing the garden; after that the garden would be passed on to other caretakers. The garden has already yielded several crops, including carrots, okra, onions, pumpkins, basil, chives, tomatoes, strawberries and peppers.

The G.R.E.A.T. students will harvest food from the garden for the daily lunches they prepare and also sell the flowers at the Lee’s Summit Farmer’s Market. The Miller Park Center students will have the opportunity to use the garden as an alternative place to go to relax, and it will serve as an incentive.

Shoemaker will be graduating from college in May with degrees in nonprofit leadership, business administration and applied critical thought and inquiry. She plans to purse a career with nonprofits involved with urban agriculture.

Miller Park Center is a special-education, day-treatment facility operated by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.