A $5,000 grant will allow Huntersville Parks and Recreation Department to create a community garden at the downtown Growers’ Market.
Assistant Director Scott Treon said the project was selected as a recipient of the National Recreation Parks Association grant, and ground will be broken in the next few weeks.
“It was one of those things (staff) talked about as looking to upgrade the whole Growers’ Market area,” he said, noting the goal is to put 24 to 36 4-by-4-foot, raised beds in a fenced area, likely between the caboose and the ice house.
“A family or child will be assigned to each plot and will have their choice of vegetable to grow. We’ll help them with seeds; planting and growing; why it’s good to grow your own versus buying in a store; and healthy living,” he said. “We’re hoping this program will teach family and kids about giving back to the community.”
Treon said community gardeners will take home half of what they grow, and the other half can be sold at the Growers’ Market with the proceeds benefiting Angels and Sparrows soup kitchen, or the produce donated directly to it.
Treon said the donation portion of the program was key in obtaining the grant.
“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to produce 300 pounds of food. … Part of grant said we have to donate a portion of what’s grown to benefit the community like a soup kitchen or food pantry,” he said, noting Angles and Sparrows was a natural choice.
“It’s local within Huntersville … and we have relationship with them already,” Treon said, noting the soup kitchen’s Old Statesville Road location is relatively close to the Growers’ Market.
Angels and Sparrows Executive Director Sandy Tilley said the organization provides a free lunch for nearly 120 people every weekday, and the number of daily recipients always increases in the summer, when children are out of school.
“Summer is our favorite time of year,” she said, adding the organization often receives donations of fresh produce during peak garden season. “(Vegetable gardeners) know we always accept everything that’s fresh, we’re happy to see them,” she said. “We want the best we can get for our folks, nothing goes to waste.”
Treon said the department will start putting out garden applicant information to area schools, churches, on the town website and Facebook page in the coming weeks. He also said they’ll need volunteers to work with students and families in the gardens on Saturday mornings.
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter @htrenda
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