SOUTHWICK – The American Inn provides a great experience for people over the age of 55 years old. With the main building on Sawmill Park as well as 129 cottages throughout the 50-acre village, the American Inn has several hundreds of people that call it home.
Residing in one of the 129 cottages, is Donald Munro. As he has been living in the same cottage for the past 16 years, Munro has spent a great deal of his time doing what he loves.
Calling it a hobby may not do justice as it is certainly more of a passion for Munro. Growing up in Kansas City, MO, Munro fell in love with farming.
But, his passion was put on hold when he then attended the University of Missouri, followed by two years of service in the military in Germany.
After being away from Kansas City, Munro came back and started to farm with his wife. His love for farming was not showing any signs of slowing down as the many struggles with farming didn’t either.
“It was not a success with five years drought but we got by,” said Munro.
Once Munro decided to move from Kansas City to the New England area, it didn’t take him much longer to find the American Inn. Of the last 16 years that Munro has lived in the Southwick community, he has brought his love for farming in the Midwest, right to his current backyard.
Since there almost certainly wouldn’t be enough room to have a farm in his new backyard, Munro was able to find an alternative; gardening.
“I may not be able to farm for a living, but I still get out there and dig in the dirt,” said Munro.
With a roof-covered porch just outside his screen door, Munro was able to establish the garden just past the porch in order for the garden to gain shade.
Over the years, Munro has mentioned that the garden has always stayed the same size, but it hasn’t stopped him from planting new things.
Munro has anything from sweet tomatoes and lettuce to swiss chard and basil. The way Munro is able to get the different types of plants in his garden is the unorthodox method that he uses.
Instead of growing his garden horizontally, Munro grows vertically. Munro’s method to his madness is behind the fact that he can not only plant things closer together but growing vertically provides more shade to his porch.
Munro has also found other ways to have his garden become successful. He was able to use two two-foot fluorescent fixtures, a rack with a timer on it, and was able to start planting inside, let them grow in pots and then they would eventually transplant outside.
“That way you can get the varieties you want,” said Munro. “I was growing more than I ever used so I was giving plants away.”
As Munro is one of the few people at the American Inn who has a personal garden, Munro has had to deal with the ups and downs of gardening.
As he has done limited gardening this summer because of the drought, Munro has been able to look back on his passion. There may be droughts and times of struggle, but Munro’s long-time hobby has always been worth it.
“It was the fun in doing it.”