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Teens tend to community garden

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Teen Council member Anastasia Star (right) reads up on how to plant the garden while Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams gets her hands dirty.

Special photo Teen Council member Anastasia Star (right) reads up on how to plant the garden while Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams gets her hands dirty.

Taking a cue from the White House, Forest Park officials planted a community garden in 2010 to encourage healthier eating and outdoor exercise.

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Special photo Forest Park Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams reads instructions before the Teen Council gets started on the raised beds in the community garden.

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Special photo Teen Council members got the vegetables started in containers before they were planted in the garden’s raised beds.

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Special photo Forest Park Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams and Public Works Director Mike Gippert (right) with Teen Council. Forest Park Public Works employee Mario Ibarra and Bill Finch, for whom the garden is named, are first and second from left in the back.

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Special photo Mayor Sparkle Adams shows the Teen Council gardeners instructions on how to get the raised beds started.

Members of the Teen Council have taken on the garden as one of its community service projects, recently planting “almost every vegetable you can imagine,” said Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams. The Teen Council planted vegetables in buckets as self-watering containers a couple of weeks prior to the planting, she said.

“The vegetables are doing fantastic,” said Adams.

Adams and other city officials, volunteers and members of the Teen Council spent a Saturday morning planting the veggies at the Willie Finch Community Garden on Lee Circle.

“The Teen Council was awesome and took directions very well,” said Adams.

The Willie Finch Community Garden was dedicated on Oct. 2, 2010, to a long-time resident Willie “Bill” Finch, said Adams. A 59-year Forest Park resident, Finch and his wife raised seven children. He is known in the community as an avid farmer who shares his crops with the rest of his community. 

“The initial idea for the garden came from one of the Teen Council members that wanted to be a chef and talk about eating healthy,” said Adams. “Another teen wanted to talk about living an organic lifestyle and recycling.”

Adams said the teens and residents were also inspired by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program that encourages a healthier lifestyle and physical fitness. She is responsible for planting the White House kitchen garden. More information on the campaign can be found at www.letsmove.gov.

“Through much discussion, and consultation with Mr. Finch and the late Councilman Don Judson, we decided to have a community garden,” said Adams.

City Manager John Parker found a sunny plot of city property on Lee Circle that could be used for such a garden. Volunteers from Clayton State University AmeriCorps students and community residents assisted in planting the initial crops that included cabbage, collards, beans, peppers and squash.

“It is our hope that the harvest of this crop will be able to feed the community as they are able to come out and not only help us plant, but also reap the benefits of our collective labor,” said Adams. “We also would like to donate some of the food to the Clayton County Community Services Center to pass out to the people who come to their office for assistance.”

The next day for planting in the ground will be Saturday, April 14, at 9 a.m.

The bounty will be shared with all Forest Part residents. Adams said once the vegetables are ready to be harvested, residents are welcome to take what they need for their families.

Volunteers are welcome to join Teen Council at the next planting. Anyone needing more information about the Forest Park Community Garden can contact City Hall at (404) 366-4720.