By MATT CRANE
At 81 years old, Muggie Brooks has found a new way to garden.
A survivor of two strokes and bound to a wheelchair, Brooks, with the help of her son Randolph, uses the unconventional materials around her to continue her passion for gardening.
"I just kept thinking to myself ‘Lord, how can I raise something,'" Muggie Brooks said. "I love being out in the soil."
Muggie Brooks has been farming and growing plants her entire life, and recently began using old, unused tires as planters for the vegetables she grows in her garden.
"I use the tires for planters because it's easier to access, and with such a small space it cuts down on the problems with weeds and such," Muggie Brooks said. "I'm just a farmer from my heart."
While she is currently focused on her green bean plants, Muggie Brooks said she raises all kinds of vegetables from tomatoes to cucumbers.
"I've always raised up my own food," Muggie Brooks said. "I think it tastes better when you raise it yourself."
If farming and growing food throughout her life was not hard enough, Muggie Brooks also raised 11 children, eight boys and three girls, a majority of it by herself after her husband passed away.
"I grew food for my family, and we went through some rough times, but we never went hungry," Muggie Brooks said. "We were blessed, and my kids never gave me too much trouble."
Randolph Brooks said the idea to plant his mother's vegetables in old, empty tires comes from the idea of green, environment friendly gardening.
"The tire planters are easier for her and it helps not to waste anything and use what we have around us and to be more conscious," Randolph Brooks said. "It also helps to cut down on the spread of West Nile virus because mosquitoes will populate these old tires laying around that are filled with water."
Muggie Brooks said she admits that the younger generations are not doing much farming and gardening for themselves, but said the biggest piece of advice she has for prospective gardeners is to let everything come naturally.
"If you want to start a garden, it's got to be something that you really, really want to do," Muggie Brooks said. "It's a pleasure thing for me."
Above all, Muggie Brooks said she is thankful for her family and continued ability to get out into the garden herself.
"I live one day at a time and thank God for it," she said. "I love to see something grow."