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April 23, 2013

Volunteers help move Harrisburg community garden forward

MILLEDGEVILLE — A native of the Harrisburg neighborhood on the south side of town, Cyndee Edwards is proud to finally see the outside community coming together to provide a safe place for area residents to convene, enjoy recreational activities and find freshly-grown foods.

The Milledgeville Community Garden Association (MCGA) applied for a Knight Community Foundation grant to go toward creating a community garden at the Collins P. Lee Center in the Harrisburg neighborhood. The project was awarded $13,350 in early June 2012 to help move the project idea forward.

“There are still people who grew up here and new people in the area who all want to do things and are still concerned about the neighborhood. It means a whole lot; and even though this is an old neighborhood, there’s still new growth and the energy is still vibrant. It’s good to see things happening that should’ve been done a long time ago,” said Edwards, who also serves as the program manager at the county recreation department. “It also means the community and recreation department are collaborating together to make things happen. It’s going to be a safe environment for kids to play and a place to learn from the classes offered. We have a ways to go, but it’s looking good.”

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 around 50 by 100 feet.

“This community actually asked to have this community garden here,” said Haley Dillman, a Georgia College community health major who helped build raised beds at the center Monday. “The walking path will have berry bushes so you can get exercise as you’re getting healthy foods. Milledgeville has an overall high rate in obesity and cardiovascular disease, but if this is successful here, this [project] could be an example to help fight some of these issues in this area.”

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