Gardener Profile







Earl Moore’s passion for growing vegetables started as a favor to an ailing friend who needed help maintaining his garden. Earl just wanted to be helpful, but he quickly discovered that gardening is contagious.



After the friend passed away, Earl told the man’s widow that he would keep the garden going. That was about 10 years ago.


Today, Earl has a prolific garden just behind the headquarters building of Kansas City Community Gardens in Swope Park, and is one of the “regulars” at KCCG during the growing season.


He still supplies the widow with fresh produce, and both have enough to keep their freezers full all winter, too. He also shares the bounty with neighbors. “Earl gardens for the whole neighborhood,” says one KCCG staff member.


Earl has gained a reputation, in fact, for always being willing and ready to help others, whether by sharing produce or by helping those who enjoy gardening but can’t manage the equipment or who have become unable to care for their gardens.


 “A lot of older people can’t use the tillers,” he says. “I tell them I can do it for them.”


Earl retired as a truck driver from Fleming Foods in 2002, and was looking for a hobby. Gardening “fell into my lap,” he says. “I like to see things growing and to be successful at it.”


And successful he is. Earl has grown tomatoes, squash, green beans, lima beans, collard greens, sweet potatoes, okra, beets, corn, cucumbers, peppers, onions, mustard greens, cabbage, cantaloupe and more. You name it, and it’s a good bet that Earl has had it in his garden at one time or another.


He plants in the spring and the fall, and says people who don’t want to get out in the heat of summer and plant a fall garden are missing a lot of good eating.


He has no favorites in terms of what he grows. “I just like to see my plants healthy and growing,” he says. If he tries something and it grows really well, then “next year I might grow more of it,” he says. He admits he never learned to cook, but wife Frances is good at making use of the bounty and she also freezes and cans vegetables for the winter.


Earl spends most mornings in the spring through the fall at the Swope Park garden. When he’s not working in the garden, there’s always someone to talk to – or to help in some way. He likes the fact that people socialize at KCCG.  People stop by and if it is raining or there is no gardening to be done, they pull up chairs inside the garage doorway and sit down and chat.


“Everybody gets along, nobody is jealous, everybody’s helpful,” he says.


Earl grew up on a farm in southeast Arkansas. Like many young people, he says he did not appreciate the farming way of life.


“I told my father I had no use for farming,” he said. “I’m moving to the city. Farming is not my lifestyle.”


Now, he says, he “wishes I had listened more and learned more.”


That’s OK, because Earl has learned quite a few tricks of gardening since then, and he credits the KCCG staff with a lot of the knowledge. John Williams, KCCG program manager, often advises the gardeners on how to grow particular plants, how much fertilizer to use, and when to plant. But Earl says he likes all the staff and thinks they are all helpful.


Does he have any other tips for someone starting a first garden? Not really, he says. But he is encouraging to inexperienced gardeners.


“If you put it down and put fresh dirt around it, it will grow more than likely,” he advises. And, even for experienced gardeners, he says, “There’s always someone out here (at KCCG) who knows something you don’t.” 


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