Community garden opens at King Family Library

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 11:32 PM

Volunteers from the Sevier County Public Library System, Keep Sevier Beautiful, and Lowe's gathered this week for the community garden kickoff. The new garden is behind the King Family Library.

The library system, in partership with Keep Sevier Beautiful, recently received a $5,000 grant through Lowe's Charitable Education Foundation that will help fund the project. The grant is one of many Lowe's has awarded as part of a nationwide effort to support community improvement projects.

In addition to serving as a resource for fresh fruits and vegetables, the project is intended to promote a sense of connection within the community and offer educational opportunities to adults and children alike.

"KSB is excited to partner with the library and Lowe's to bring these gardens to our community," said Keep Sevier Beautiful Executive Director Laura Howard at Tuesday's kickoff. "They will be a great asset, providing an interactive outdoor classroom for our youth to learn about growing and fresh produce to the volunteers and food ministry."

Library Systems Director Rhonda Tippitt said children involved in the summer reading program will learn about the three sisters, which is the interplanting of corn, beans and squash in the same mounds.

This planting system, which stems from Native American cultures, allows the crops to benefit from each other, with the corn providing a climbing structure for the beans, as the beans provide nitrogen to the soil for the other plants to use. The squash serves as a weed barrier, blocking sunlight and spreading across the ground.

Tippitt said that along with these typical plants, a variety of strangely shaped fruits and vegetables that children don't typically see will be a part of the garden.

"I'm really excited about it," said Karen Miller, education coordinator for Keep Sevier Beautiful. "I moved here from Ohio, and we had a master gardeners' club, but I've never been involved with a community garden...It's an exciting way to get the community involved, promote healthy eating, and maybe even encourage others to try something they haven't eaten before."

Seagle Landscaping donated dirt for the project, and now that the garden is planted, volunteers are needed for its upkeep. For every hour worked, each volunteer will receive a small basket of available crops.

For more information about the community garden, contact Rhonda Tippett at 453-3532 or Laura Howard at 774-6677.

jfrye@themountainpress.com