Everyday hero: Miller enjoys sharing love of gardening at children’s home
NATCHEZ — Harrison “Buddy” Miller has spent his life watching the seasons pass from planting, to tending, to harvest and back to planting.
His life’s work has been running the Plantation Pecan and Gift Company in Waterproof, La.
Miller’s work over the last several years has been to share that experience with children in Natchez who might not otherwise get to watch a fruit or vegetable go from a seed to a serving.
Each spring, Miller coordinates planting six gardens at the Natchez Children’s Home with the arrival of students from Boston University and Agnes Scott College in Atlanta who spend their spring break volunteering throughout Natchez.
Miller and the college-aged volunteers add new soil and nutrients to the six raised boxes, plant the seeds and cover the boxes with plastic to limit the growth of weeds.
Miller said seeing the college students working in the children’s garden has given him hope for future generations.
“My hat is off to those kids, because they do volunteer work rather than go to the beach somewhere on spring break,” Miller said.
“This is hard to manage work, getting this garden in,” Miller said. “And without their help, we couldn’t do it.
“The garden just doesn’t do itself.”
For all the hard work, from planting to harvest, Miller said the ultimate goal of the garden is to give children a better understanding of how food, especially fruits and vegetables, finds its way to their tables.
“If they see the garden growing, and watch it and help pick, and watch it being prepared and served in the kitchen, they are more than likely to eat it and enjoy it,” Miller said.
“It’s always a personal pleasure to give children the sample of things that we do and to get them started to accept eating fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Calvin Wactor, facility and grounds director at the Children’s Home, has been working there as long as Miller has been tending the gardens.
“It’s great to see the kids get so excited when we give them a few tomatoes or a cantaloupe to carry home with them. It just makes their day,” Wactor said.
Wactor added that the children aren’t alone in enjoying the learning experience.
“I have learned a treasure trove of knowledge from Buddy which has helped me even in my own garden at home,” Wactor said.
“He’s the brains of the operation,” Wactor said. “And he’s been awesome to give his time and support.”