By ROB W. ANDERSON
Apparently, it does take a village to raise a garden.
Through help from several local and area people and organizations, the Cherokee County Cooperative Extension Service is working on a community garden to aid and support its 4-H program, as well as provide community service opportunities.
Members of 4-H will work the garden and sell items grown to help raise funds, while the educational experience will also provide the youth way to help local families in need.
The students will begin their share of the work when summer begins, said Cherokee County Extension Service 4-H Educator Carl Wallace.
“Once a week, we’re going to identify some families in the community that are maybe hitting hard times, and those kids are going to deliver vegetables to them,” he said. “It depends on how much we end up with once we truly get going, but we would like to be able to adopt 10 to 20 families.”
Patrons seeking guidance in growing vegetables and other garden needs will also be able to receive support from the County Extension Service garden, on South College Avenue between Chickasaw and Choctaw streets. Use of the property was donated by David and Lori McCollum, and the project has been in the making for at least two years.
“It’s been a big deal to get pulled together. The community has really gotten behind this deal,” he said.
“We’ve had support from all over the community. The dirt actually was donated from a gentleman over in Stilwell, and the county commissioners hauled it here for us.”
Other entities and businesses have donated railroad ties, plants and mulch, along with a greenhouse, which will be erected in the fall.
“The Cherokee Nation [provided] a $4,200 grant that this [storage] building is partially funded by. The county commissioners are also helping build it, as well.”
To get things started, Wallace and his County Extension Office colleague, Roger Williams, planted several varieties of tomatoes and peppers, as well as some okra, onions, cucumbers, squash, radishes, and lettuce.
“We felt like these were the main ones that people would have an interest in. There’s not a lot things you can do with beans, and there’s really not enough room here to grow corn,” said Wallace.
“We’re going to sell vegetables once a week, and all of the proceeds will go the 4-H program. We’re wanting it to be something that will help support the 4-H program, where the kids can come do the work and support themselves a little bit.”
Williams writes a weekly column for the Daily Press that often includes instructional gardening information, and said the community garden will now provide a living example of what his columns discuss.
“Everybody can read and see examples on the Internet, but sometimes you just want to look at and see stuff [up close],” he said.
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