Introducing Our Community Gardens Founders

Published on 2011-12-01 in GeneralGarden News

The Springfield Community Gardens' founders will be the first to tell you the gardens have seen early success thanks to the many dedicated Grant Beach neighborhood residents and other Springfield volunteers. That's true, and people close to the project are thankful our founders have done quite a bit of heavy lifting too. Certainly, they've earned a formal introduction at the very least.

Get involved with the gardens, and there's a good chance Maile Auterson, Darlene Steele, or Shelley Vaugine will be right there digging in with you. Here's your chance to learn a bit about them in advance.


Along with Shelley, Maile saw the need for a community garden in Grant Beach and helped to implement a proposal that the City of Springfield accepted. She will graduate with a BS in Liberal Studies from the University of Oklahoma in the summer of 2012 and specializes in grass roots organization, food security, and asset-based community development. Maile is currently doing policy and field research on rural poverty in the Ozarks and the need for sustainable forestry practices on small farms as a way to diversify income.


Darlene has enjoyed 6 great years in the Grant Beach neighborhood. A single mom of two girls, she's spent recent years educating children, in one form or another. After getting heavily involved with Grant Beach Neighborhood Association, Darlene became aware of the Grant Beach Community Garden project. She recognized the idea was an innovative solution for struggling families, and she has been thrilled to help grow both the neighborhood and the Springfield community as a whole. If you stop by the garden or Hovey House, you're quite likely to find Darlene there.


Shelley Vaugine has lived in the Springfield area for 30 years and has been an active gardener since childhood. In 1997, she earned a Bachelor of Science in History of Costume at Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU). Shelley then earned her Masters of Library Science from the University of Missouri in 2001. She has been a Master Gardener for 5 years, working in both demonstration gardens and public education. She has conducted classes in Beginning Gardening, Companion Planting, Herb Gardening, Organic Gardening, and Lasagna Gardening. Shelley was instrumental in founding, designing, and implementing the Grant Beach Community Garden. She is still an active member serving as the garden committee chair and project leader for the Beach Club 4-H group.