Miller Family Funeral Home owner Kenny Miller has found a way to utilize the field behind his business to give back to the community — he has used the space to plant a community garden.
“Whenever everything was closing down, nobody could get meats or veggies, and we had friends that were deer hunters that donated meat, and this was just an empty pasture. I thought that surely we could do something to make it useful,” Miller said. “So I talked to some friends of mine, and one friend mowed it for me, another friend plowed and planted it, and another dug a well for it.”
Miller, who was born and raised in Snyder, said that it was important for him to do everything that he could to give back to the community.
“This is a funeral home, but only about 10 percent of what we do is dealing with the dead,” he said. “90 percent of what we do is dealing with the living. There is nothing we can do that’s going to bring a person back to life, but we do everything we can to help their family — lend a shoulder, lend an ear, whatever they need. We treat this as a ministry.”
Miller said that he had always enjoyed gardening, and this seemed like a perfect way to bring the community together.
The funeral home holds community events year-round, such as a Dia de los Muertos celebration, a Christmas memorial service, drives for natural disasters, coat drives, snowman and Valentines contests and more.
In lieu of large events, though, Miller and his employees have used the community garden as a way to bring people together.
Funeral Director Carman Juarez said that he has learned a lot throughout the planting and harvesting process.
“(People) will tell us, you know, pick things and they’ll come back again. Like the black-eyed peas, if you pick them under the little flower bud, they’ll put out again. I didn’t know that,” he said. “With okra, don’t let them get too big because then they’re hard. I’m not a farmer, but now I know. It’s neat, and they’re excited to tell you about how to do it.”
Miller said that a lot of the seeds they planted were donated.
“I bought some, just enough to get started, but everything else was donated. For a while, I didn’t know what exactly was out there until they started producing,” he said.
As of now, Juarez said that they have okra, squash, green beans, zucchini, black-eyed peas and other vegetables. Anyone can come to the garden anytime to harvest, pick weeds or just spend time with the plants.