- Cape student sues, accuses school officials of slamming her to ground multiple times (04/28/16)45
- Bob Evans restaurant in Cape Girardeau among chain's 21 closings (04/26/16)9
- Missouri House votes to allow concealed weapons without permits (04/28/16)6
- Two hurt in motorcycle wreck on Interstate 55 (04/25/16)1
- Law firm requests information about Cape's traffic cameras (04/25/16)2
- Local lawmakers split over failed medical marijuana bill; voters may have a say (04/26/16)19
- Police report filed, but no charges in incident at Cape Central (04/29/16)35
- Tanker truck catches fire near Oak Ridge (04/24/16)7
- Local company makes eco-friendly kitty litter that cuts cat-box smell (04/25/16)
- Senator introduces bill for I-57 that would connect Sikeston with Little Rock (04/28/16)4
Community gardens fulfill one dream of Cape Girardeau bus driver
Robert Harris keeps a journal full of dreams. Some of them have already been realized.
"You just have so many dreams, and you just hope that one day you can pull them off," he said.
Harris, 55, is a bus driver for the Cape Girardeau School District, but during the summer he volunteers in two community gardens. He helped create the Cape Girardeau Community Garden Project six years ago, beginning with a plot of land off South Fountain Street. Three years later he took over the Red Star Baptist Church garden on North Main Street, and it was incorporated into the project.
Harris takes the vegetables he grows in the gardens to senior citizens or people with health conditions who are unable to leave their homes. He leaves some vegetables, including squash, tomatoes and green beans, in small bins next to the gardens for anyone in the community who needs them.
Harris spends about 10 hours in the gardens each day and is allied with several organizations to grow and harvest the vegetables. The community gardens are supplied with plants from the greenhouse at the Cape Girardeau County Juvenile Detention Center. Harris has worked with juvenile referrals from the 32nd Judicial Circuit and young people from the Division of Youth Services' Echo Program, Boy Scout Troop 215 and ROPE 4-H Club.
"Without them, I couldn't do it," he said.
Randy Rhodes, juvenile officer for the 32nd Judicial Circuit, said Harris is skilled at organizing groups working in the gardens.
"He's a jewel for the community, that's for sure," Rhodes said.
Harris became a Master Gardener shortly before the creation of the Community Garden Project but has been gardening since he was a child. He said that, although he did not realize it until he was older, he feels called to do the work.
"You know how when you feel you have a calling and you don't like to see people suffer or do without, so you're just simply doing what you have a gift to do," Harris said.
Harris' dreams extend beyond the two gardens in Cape Girardeau. He proposed the construction of a playground next to the Main Street garden, and the Parks and Recreation Department built one in the spring.
His journal includes ideas for gardens in other cities and plans for a plot in Cape Girardeau where families can grow vegetables. He said he eventually hopes to found a not-for-profit organization.
Although Harris has recovered from a cancer that forced him to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments a year ago, he is aware he will not be able to volunteer forever. He said his journal can be used as a road map for someone else looking to continue his work.
But he did not mention plans to slow down and said his battle with cancer has made him more appreciative of what he does.
"You realize that it's a gift to be alive," Harris said.
Cape Girardeau, MO