Photo by Johnny Jackson
Locust Grove resident, Clark Runion (far right), and other volunteers, till small garden plots at the Wesley Way Community Gardens, the newest garden project for Community Gardens of Henry County, Inc.
By Johnny Jackson
Several volunteers turned out, Thursday, to celebrate Earth Day and the start of a new community garden in Henry County.
"It's kind of a hobby," Clark Runion said as he cranked the motor on his tiller.
Runion and about two dozen others began work on transforming the bare ground into Henry County's latest, self-sustaining, Community Gardens project.
A partnership more than a year in the making, Community Gardens of Henry County, Inc., and Wesley Way United Methodist Church in McDonough, have created the county's first dual-purpose garden.
The Wesley Way Community Garden, located at 150 John Wesley Way in McDonough, incorporates both a 34-plot community vegetable garden and a 50-by-100-foot plant-a-row garden. The new garden will also feature a small park at its center.
Chris Dugan, a member of Wesley Way United Methodist, spearheaded the effort. He said he arrived at the idea to plant a garden on the east McDonough church campus in late 2008. The lot, he said, had otherwise gone unused, so he enlisted the help of his church pastor, Greg Meadows.
"I was talking with Greg one day about the uses of the land," said Dugan, who also dabbles in gardening at home. "I've got a little square at the house," he continued. "It's something to tinker with."
Meadows agreed that using the land as a spot for community gardening was a productive use of bare land in rural Georgia.
"I thought it was a much better way to use it than growing grass," said Meadows, pointing out the tall grass near the new garden. "I'm looking for it to be a place that can bring some beauty to this little plot of land, and also some blessings to the community."
The two gardens within the Wesley Way Community Garden represent the sixth and seventh community gardens in Henry County, said Glenda Garris, who founded Community Gardens of Henry County, Inc., in 2004.
The addition of the new garden could expand the organization's participation to as many as 80 community gardeners, she said. Its 34 vegetable garden plots, which are a few square feet each, are available at an annual gardening fee of $25.
"The expectation is that you keep your garden well-maintained," Garris said.
The Wesley Way plant-a-row garden, the second such garden in Henry County, will help provide local charities and non-profits with foods like corn, tomatoes and beans, she added. The organization's Cubihatcha plant-a-row garden currently provides supplemental vegetables to Shining Light Ministries, A Friend's House, and Helping In His Name Ministries, Inc., Food Pantry.
"At our community gardens there are families with children who have plots," said Gloria Hughes. "This is a way for kids to learn that good really comes from the soil and from work. And there's a real community feel."
Hughes, a board member of Henry County Community Gardens, said she became a master gardener in 2004 because she grew increasingly intrigued by the activity.
Runion, a lay gardener, admits he is not as advanced in the practice of gardening as Hughes. However, he plants his own plot of vegetables at his Locust Grove home.
"I do it to have something to do, and to have something to eat," said Runion, who grew up on a Tennessee farm. "I've been doing it all my life."
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