Helping Other People Excel, or HOPE, Park, a new project sponsored by the McDonough-based Southern Crescent Sports Foundation, officially opened its community garden on the site of the future park last week.
Linda Clark, one of the garden’s coordinators, said the inclusion of the planting area within the 26-acre park addressed a need in the Lovejoy community.
“There wasn’t a community garden at the time,” she said.
“[My husband David and I] went to a seminar about community gardens to get info and started promoting it.”
For $20 a year, residents can acquire their own garden bed.
A pepper plant and a tomato plant are provided at no additional cost.
Thus far, Clark said there has been a good response from the community.
“One of the members is a young fellow,” she said. “He and his wife joined and now he has his mother coming and a couple of neighbors.”
Currently, according to Clark, there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables growing — and thriving — in the garden.
“We have squash, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers — bell peppers as well as hot peppers — strawberries, watermelon, lettuces, spinach, radishes, Brussels sprouts, kale, potatoes and beets,” she said.
Every Sunday morning around 10 or 11 a.m., members come to the garden and work in it.
The overarching goal of the community garden is education, Clark said.
“Part of our thought process for the garden to help people learn how to garden,” she said.
“There are so many benefits to growing food more organically and eating healthier.”
The community garden is just one part of the park, which will include eight ball fields, a 30,000-square-foot all-accessible playground, a multi-purpose building with a commercial kitchen, restrooms, concession stands and batting cages.
The park will also have a Miracle League field, where children with special needs can play baseball or softball.
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