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Sun, Oct. 20

Meet Your Neighbors: Kingman gardener makes the desert bloom

Marcie Craynon did not shy away from a bumblebee gathering pollen from a passion plant in her garden Friday.

"It absolutely will not sting you," she said to a reporter and photographer, who were a bit skeptical of her statement.

Craynon has Hualapai and Navajo ancestry.

She has been into gardening for more than 40 years and much of the backyard of her home is devoted to it.

"My father came from Ohio and was a gardener," she said "He established that desire in me at an early age (of about 3).

"My husband (Dave) also is from Ohio and a gardener and we grow our own food."

"I also might add that my grandmother was an herbalist, so (gardening) is in our blood."

The Craynons have five children, three of whom are gardeners.

The family garden of Dave and Marcie Craynon is active year round.

Vegetables or fruits cultivated include eggplants, several types of tomatoes, lettuce and squash, onions, artichokes, garlic, pumpkins, strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, peas, beans and cucumbers.

The herbal line includes Greek oregano, rosemary, lemon balm, basil and peppermint.

Passion plants are used as part of science projects at Cedar Hills School, where Craynon teaches a multiage 3-4-5 class.

Craynon said she worked for one year in the Hualapai Indian Tribe Cultural Department and started a community gardening program while there.

But that was five years ago and the program dropped off after she became a substitute teacher at Cedar Hills School.

"We're trying to reestablish the program with help from the Mohave County Extension Service so it can become a rural horticulture program," she said.

"It was hard to keep up the program without a facilitator for several years, but it has come back in the past two years and I'm in the process of writing federal grants for money for it."

Craynon has held the designation of master gardener since receiving it in May 2001 from the University of Arizona/Mohave County Cooperative Extension Service.

Take a tour of her back yard and you'll see she has earned the title.

She has even placed several bamboo plants around her garden for protection from sun and wind.

The entire back yard is fully irrigated on a timer system to ensure consistency in watering.

She grows many vegetables in raised bed gardens.

"Tomatoes grow well here, but you have to watch out for soil that is sandy, rocky or too caleche (hard soil containing lime deposits that prevent plants from taking root)," she said.

"We build our entrenchments and keep them amended by adding calcium for nutrients and compost (as fertilizer)."

Craynon is the adopted daughter of the late Bill and Mary Frank and has lived in Kingman since age 5.

She was born in Winslow.

She said she often enters salsas or canned items made from her vegetables in competitions and that she has won numerous blue ribbons.

"My greatest ambition today is to get a community garden going and working functionally in Peach Springs," Craynon said.

"I'm hoping the people there can come together and learn that gardening can be a tool for good health."

Craynon writes a gardening column bi-weekly for Gamyu, the Hualapai Tribe newsletter.

Gamyu means "hello" in Hualapai.

She also does workshops on gardening.

Another testimonial to her success came last year.

She said she fed 150 people at her daughter's wedding with foods from her garden.

Neighbors is a feature that appears Monday in the Kingman Daily Miner.

If you have an interesting story you'd like to share, contact Terry Organ at 753-6397 ext.

225.

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