Lyle Pounds — Adding a footprint in the Motherhouse gardens

July 22, 2015 by

web-lyle-DSC_5236

Ask anyone at the Nazareth Motherhouse and they will tell you the huge vegetable garden just south of the historic building has never looked better or been more productive.

But ask Lyle Pounds, now in his second growing season as the Motherhouse gardener, and he’ll tell you the success comes from the “footprints” of all the gardeners who came before him — particularly Sister Ann Vincent Glatter, who worked the soil here for 60 years.

That humility is part of what makes the 66-year-old Pounds such a good fit for the Sisters of St. Joseph. And the fact that he brings a lifetime of working the soil, while also teaching and learning, doesn’t hurt a bit.

Lyle Pounds

Lyle Pounds

The native Concordian — who left his hometown only for long enough to attend Emporia State University and start his teaching career in Newton — retired three years ago after 30 years teaching special education. For his last 10 years in the Concordia School District, he was director of the alternative high school.

In retirement, he explains with a laugh, “I got tired of drinking coffee — when it felt like that was all I was doing.”

So a year and a half ago when he saw a help-wanted ad for a gardener at the Motherhouse, he jumped at the opportunity to go back to work.

Pounds has always gardened — from hoeing weeds for his father, to a couple of years as a commercial grower providing vegetables to Prairie Produce in Concordia, and as a Master Gardener through Kansas State University Extension.

And he has a garden at home — although he concedes it’s getting much smaller as he spends the morning hours working in the Motherhouse garden.

The Motherhouse greenhouse provides storage space in the summer, while also becoming an "ICU" to provide special care for ailing house plants,  shown in the background.

The Motherhouse greenhouse provides storage space in the summer, while also becoming an “ICU” to provide special care for ailing house plants, shown in the background.

He’s here around 6 every morning this time of year, and works between four and six hours a day. As he harvest a wide array of vegetables, they go to the Motherhouse kitchen for the sisters who live here and to the kitchen at Manna House of Prayer. Surplus — and there’s often surplus — goes to the Concordia Senior Center or the Cloud County Resource Center Food Bank.

New crops this summer include kohlrabi, tomatillo and a few blueberry bushes. Most additions come at the suggestion of Sister Betty Suther, who heads the sisters’ Gardening Committee, which is also responsible for the Concordia Community Garden of Hope.

Pounds also receives special requests from time to time — including an idea from Holly Brown, the sisters’ Development Director, to create a pumpkin patch as part of a new family event on the Motherhouse grounds in October. In preparation Pounds has planted 50 pumpkin hills in a newly tilled plot just south of the Community Garden.

He includes that in his rounds each morning, as well as the main garden and the nearly equal-in-size garden to the south of the Motherhouse garages where there is asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke and all the vining crops. And he swings by the greenhouse, also behind the Motherhouse, at least once or twice in a morning.

By mid-July the corn is high enough to block a view of the Motherhouse.

By mid-July the corn is high enough to block a view of the Motherhouse.

Pounds laughs as he recalls one day early on in his new job as gardener when he was wearing a pedometer just to gauge whether he was getting enough exercise. That day he walked 8 miles crisscrossing the Motherhouse grounds.

It’s that energy and enthusiasm for the work that most impresses Motherhouse Facilities Administrator Greg Gallagher. He points out the martin house Pounds added, plus the flowers interspersed among the vegetables and the weed-free paths.

“The garden is truly a thing of beauty,” Gallagher says. “You can tell Lyle’s heart is there.”

Pounds, however, is not quick to take credit.

“This spot has been a garden for probably 100 years or more,” he says, standing among the corn stalks in the main garden. “And it’s still incredibly fertile. Gardeners before me brought in grass clippings, sheep manure, anything to help the soil. Sister Annie — this is her footprint. I’m just the next person in line.”

 

Comments

One Response to “Lyle Pounds — Adding a footprint in the Motherhouse gardens”

  1. Patti Omalley on August 19th, 2015 8:01 am

    Jerusalem artichoke, Lyle? Where do you get those seeds? Have you tried Jicama? An addition we want to try in 2016. Hoping to grow both at The Cedar House garden next year.

Feel free to leave a comment...