Katie Kirkland of Aunt Katie's Community Garden passes at 97

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Aunt Katie’s Community Garden teaches students in Dothan how to grow their own food and eat healthier. Katie Kirkland, the woman the garden is named after, passed away at the age of 97.

"When we were looking around for a name for the first community garden here in Dothan, I naturally kind of leaned toward this figure in the community that I grew up with,” said Aunt Katie’s Community Garden Director Michael Jackson.

That figure was Katie Hayes Kirkland, known in the community as Aunt Katie.

Jackson knew Aunt Katie when he was just a kid, but some of his fondest memories of her were from just a few years ago, when he was setting up Aunt Katie's Community Garden.

"Once or twice a week, I would walk and sit over on the back porch,” said Jackson. “She would be back there, most of the time reading the paper and we would talk about what we were growing."

Aunt Katie’s Community Garden helps teach Dothan kids how to grow their own vegetables and how to eat healthier.

Katie ran a day care in Dothan for 35 years. Teaching and working with kids was important to her, and nobody knows that better than her son.

"When Michael named the garden after her, it was probably the greatest honor she could ever receive, because she was not a person looking for recognition, she was just doing God's work,” said Aunt Katie’s son David ‘Mit’ Kirkland.

Aunt Katie may have passed on, but her legacy will live on with the community garden.

For any kids who think Aunt Katie is just a name for the garden, her son will be there to tell them all about the woman it's named after.

"The kids were over there from one of the school groups, and they were just talking to some of the people about, 'Is it a real Aunt Katie?' They said, 'Yeah there's a real Aunt Katie.' They thought it was just a name, so they said, 'Where does she live?" They said, 'Right there. Do you all want to meet her?' So, they went across the street and met her, and they took a picture with her. That was the very last picture she ever took,” said Kirkland.

Kirkland said his mother would cook every Sunday afternoon, with vegetables she grew in the garden, and welcome the community into her house for dinner.

Katie Kirkland is survived by her three sons, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.