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Community garden project kicks off

Sep. 24, 2012 @ 12:15 AM

IRONTON -- A vacant lot in Ironton will soon be transformed into a community garden.

Residents, members of local beautification groups and employees of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital gathered on the lot at 7th and Adams streets Sunday afternoon to kick off the Ironton Community Gardens project by planting two pear trees and two apple trees.

During the next several months, 30 raised planter boxes will be built on the property so residents can begin planting vegetable or flower gardens next spring. Park benches, decorative fencing and a shed containing lockers, a compost area and potting area also will be built on the lot.

"This has been a three-year dream, and we're so pleased to have partners that are allowing this to happen," said Carol Allen, co-chairman of Ironton in Bloom, a nonprofit beautification group. "Community is the essence of what this is all about."

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital bought the vacant lot for $14,500 and will build the community garden with a grant from the Bon Secours Health System Mission Fund. Bon Secours Health System is the parent company of Our Lady of Bellefonte.

"Hopefully, more people will want a plot than we have available," said Diva Justice, director of healthy community initiatives for Our Lady of Bellefonte.

Garden plots will cost $10 or $20 and will be available to everyone. The fee will be used to help pay for maintenance costs at the garden, Justice said.

Ironton resident Bonnie Ford Holmes heard about the garden during the morning service at her church and came to the vacant lot Sunday to learn more about the project.

Ford said she fell in love with gardening again this year after one tomato plant at her residence yielded nearly 30 tomatoes. She said she will likely purchase a plot and grow tomatoes, green onions, green beans, cucumbers and collard greens.

"The raised beds are a wonderful idea for senior citizens and those with disabilities," Holmes said. "There are so many advantages of this for seniors like me. It will get me out of the house, help me save a little bit of money by growing my own vegetables and give me some exercise."