The Union Recorder

June 26, 2013

Harrisburg community garden is taking shape

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Area volunteers and residents are helping members of the Milledgeville Community Garden Association (MCGA) make progress at the community garden located at the Collins P. Lee Center in the Harrisburg neighborhood.

“All of this is so exciting,” said Debbie Harshbarger, MCGA treasurer and outreach chair. “The Collins P. Lee Center is being rented out for private affairs and is being used by the Baldwin County Parks and Recreation Department for its summer camp. The center is really becoming a hub for activity for the community.”

The project includes a plan to place a fruit orchard, pavilion and nearly a quarter of a mile-long edible walking trail around the maintained property, which was a former elementary school with the kitchen and cafeteria area currently remaining. The fenced community garden includes 22 raised garden beds, consuming a space of about 50 by 100 feet.

“Southside Equipment came out with a tractor and auger and they dug 27 post holes for us to install a deer fence; that was huge assistance in moving this project forward and securing the garden from wildlife. First United Methodist Men contributed toward the cost of the fence and they hope other churches will help support the project too,” Harshbarger said. “All of the beds are complete and gardeners are already putting in plants donated by Lockerly Arboretum, including tomatoes, peppers and herbs. We’re now waiting to build a permanent, durable main entrance with a swinging gate for the garden. With the pavilion project pending, we hope to have that all underway before fall.”

Participants in First United Methodist Church’s 16th annual River of Life will begin paving the walking trail in mid-July.

“Baldwin County is grading the property ahead of time which is tremendous assist in terms of labor to provide that,” Harshbarger said. “This will make for a really smooth and professional job.”

Milledgeville BB&T Bank locations have designated the community garden as its lighthouse project.

“Both bank locations are providing volunteers on a regular basis for volunteer efforts to help with the summer camp that has been going on in the Collins P. Lee Center,” Harshbarger said, “and to help make it a much more vibrant center for the Harrisburg community.”

The MCGA applied for a Knight Community Foundation grant to go toward creating a community garden in the Harrisburg neighborhood. The project was awarded $13,350 in early June 2012 to help move the idea forward.

“The total budget for the project exceeded $20,000, so we are still in need of additional funding to complete all of the features of the project. We still have projects to complete, like build a small tool shed and shelter from the sun. We also hope to lay a sidewalk leading up to the garden that is wheelchair accessible,” Harshbarger said. “We’re currently spending any time we have to lay cardboard and wood chips on the paths to cover weeds. The gardeners are really making good use of the mulch and amending their garden spots with the wood chips donated by Kennedy and Son Tree Service.”

A design for a donor sign is also in the works to highlight the businesses and individuals that contributed to the garden.

Volunteers and area gardeners convene on scheduled Saturday’s each week with a mission to continue toward project completion.

“We have been working almost every Saturday since early April,” Harshbarger said. “The gardeners are taking a field trip to the home of Dan Kelhoffer, a University of Georgia extension master gardener and member of the Oconee Master Gardeners Association, this Saturday to learn more about gardening and see his raised beds. We plan to have a work day the following Saturday, but that hasn’t been scheduled at this time.”

For more information about the community project, to provide financial support or donations, contact Harshbarger at 478-414-6433 or Harrisburg Community Garden Manager Joe Ward at 478-453-2565.

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