KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ella Thomas has been planting seeds in Kansas City for more than 60 years, and if she has her way, that won’t end anytime soon.
The 70-year-old native does more before lunch than most people do all day.
“I usually wake up as soon as the sun pops up over the horizon,” she said. “Once I see light, I say you’re killing daylight.”
All her life experience helps Thomas get to the root of the problem.
“I carry all my supplies in the trunk, so I have them handy, otherwise I’d forget,” she said. “I’ve got my chicken poop in there. I have my dusting for worms and bugs and stuff that get on the plants.”
Thomas feels gardening is her calling.
She’s been doing it since she was 10 years-old.
In the 1990s, she brought her green thumb to Kansas City Community Gardens.
“Just about every day I’m out working in a garden some place.”
Thomas is a true ‘perennial powerhouse’ who’s helped start dozens, maybe even hundreds of gardens across Kansas City.
“I was instrumental in getting the garden started at 58th and Euclid at the Catholic Church, St. Theresa,” she said.
The gardens are oftentimes just a way for her to give fresh produce to the elderly.
“Most of my vegetables, I take them to church and pass them out to the seniors at my church.”
It’s not just garden beds that have developed over time.
Thomas has never met a stranger.
Not too far away from lot 26 A at the Kansas City Community Gardens is her good friend Rose, who shares the same excitement for gardening.
“Bloomed into a friendship and I don’t know how many people she’s helped,” said Rose. “She’s got about six or seven gardens she’s started this year alone.”
Thomas recently moved into a senior home and insists on starting a community garden there.
She wants to help seniors have the chance to exercise and grow their own heathy food - Her own health depends on it.
“I have what they called fibromyalgia. And they tell you, you need to keep moving.”
There’s no telling when a community garden could be coming to your neighborhood, but if one does, chances are Thomas might have had have a hand in it.
“It’s almost like a legacy, and sometimes I’d tell people when I was young; They always said Johnny Appleseed went across the country, planting apple trees and orchards. So I guess you can say this is my Johnny Appleseed; Showing people how they can grow their own food and appreciate it.”