Initiated by Lovejoy Mayor Bobby Cartwright last spring, the Lovejoy Garden, a four-acre tract off Steele Road next to the old Lovejoy City Hall and adjacent to the city’s maintenance facility, has already yielded a summer harvest of peas, corn, squash and other produce.
The garden is open to city residents who seek fresh, home-grown produce they can pick themselves with the remaining produce given to the Lovejoy Community Center.
According to Kaycia Rhone, assistant to Cartwright, this has been a hands-on project for the mayor who, she said, has spent many hours in the garden working it and planting the vegetables himself.
The garden has become so popular that the Lovejoy City Council recently budgeted $80,000 to its development and upkeep.
Cartwright takes little credit for the success of the garden, which he said he hopes will continue to develop and eventually even become a local nonprofit vegetable store for the entire community. He credits much of its success to Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill.
“The sheriff has been so gracious to allow us to use inmates to help work the garden while our own city staff has also been a valuable human resource for us in the continued development of this project,” Cartwright said.
Although the actual creation and development of the garden occurred last spring, the idea for it originated in January when the city began seeking grants for it, Rhone said.
Although the grants haven’t yielded any money for the garden’s further development yet, Rhone said the city is still working on them and hopes some initial funding grant money would actually be in place next year.
“We are looking at putting a fence around the garden which will remain open so people can go in and pick only what they need for themselves,” she said.
With the garden being near the city’s maintenance facility, Rhone said there would be someone in or around the garden most of the day.
“The mayor wants to see a community store where our residents can go and get food items they may need to supplement their diet,” she said.
Although Cartwright still views the community garden as an experiment, he said city residents see it as a positive project.
“With Sheriff Hill’s allocating us assistance in the upkeep of the garden and the support of our residents, the garden has been a great home-grown food resource for our citizens,” he said.