The Garden is located in West Plains, Missouri, at the corner of Lincoln and Olden Streets in Don Warden Park.

A Bit of History…. 

The park once housed 7 residences with large, productive gardens and young trees which now shade the picnic shelter.  In the 1940’s, Joplin Brothers Handle Factory next door, where Bruce Hardwood now makes flooring, milled pick-axe handles from native ash, hickory & oak for hacking railroad ties that were shipped by the trainload across the nation.  Children played in the yards, losing marbles and other tiny toys we now find in the garden.  The mill finally closed and, due to flooding, the homes were removed in the late 1960’s and the property declared a floodway zone.  In 2009, a horse drawn plow broke ground for the new community garden and the property became part of the city park system.  The park was named, in 2011, after former resident Don Warden, now a Nashville music publisher & musician who played steel guitar with Red Sovine on the Louisiana Hayride and later performed with another native son, country music legend Porter Wagoner, on the Porter Wagoner Show.  We ask:  what could be more Southern Missouri than an industry using local hardwoods, country music & vegetable gardens?

The Don Warden boasts an outdoor performance stage, a picnic shelter, picnic tables with grills, walking trails and, of course, the community garden.  The garden is now more ADA-accessible to both gardeners and visitors.  Come and sit or stroll through the garden to enjoy the native Missouri wildflowers that are planted in our “insectary” beds to attract pollinators to our garden.

“Planting Seeds-Growing a Better Community” Food insecurity is a fact of life for many, but our garden gives members an affordable way to grow their own organic produce and share surplus harvest with food banks, shelters & other households in need while keeping grocery dollars in the local economy.  Master Gardeners earn service hours working in the garden where friendships grow along with the vegetables.  No wonder community gardens are springing up everywhere!

Renting Space is Easy!  The British call our style of gardening “allotment” gardening, when households or organization rent personal space.  So, complete an application for your allotment in the foyer of the civic center during the Home & Garden Show the first weekend in March or at the Howell County Health Department on specified days.  If requiring a garden on legs, Veggie Trugs size 2.5’ x 6’ are available for rent.  Other gardens are 4’ x 22’ at ground level.  A small rental fee is collected at application.  Garden officials are on hand to answer questions during these sign-up events.

Gardening takes Time and Energy!  Only organic practices are allowed; and members are required to maintain their own garden by keeping produce harvested, weeds to a minimum and overall appearance reasonably presentable.  End-of-season chores include removing cages, stakes and vegetation in preparation for next year.  

Produce You Grow Belongs to You!  Take your produce home with you, share it with others or even sell it somewhere other than at Don Warden Park.  (The nearby Farmer’s Market invites you to rent booth space for one day of selling for a nominal fee-or become an annual member!)

Who do I contact?  The office of Dawn Hicks at the Howell County Health Department on 180 Kentucky behind Huddle House is Communication Central.  Hicks is the health educator for the county health department and also serves as the West plains Community Garden Administrator.  Please phone or email Hicks at 417-256-7078 /[email protected]  Also, feel free to contact other garden committee members listed on the contact tab of this website.