Students lend a helping hand at Community Gardens



By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent



The Community Gardens of Henry County recently got a boost for the holiday season, thanks to the generosity of a group of young people with a volunteer spirit.

Students at Union Grove High School helped to decorate the Heritage Community Gardens on Dec. 3, in preparation for upcoming tours and festivities in and around the gardens.



Local students recently helped decorate the Heritage Community Gardens in preparation for upcoming tours and festivities. Special photo



Melissa Davis, a biology teacher at the school, said the activity was part of a Student Council initiative geared toward volunteerism.

“We – the student council -- look for community-service opportunities,” said Davis. “We do try to focus on community service each year during the holiday season as well as other times during the year. The group discussed several community service opportunities, and this one received group support.”

Davis said the students decorated at the garden, removed old crops, raked and assisted with general upkeep of the facility. She said while it is sometimes difficult to coordinate activities with community groups, the Community Gardens leaders were “inviting and encouraging,” and seemed glad to get the help.

“We simply followed instructions given by the master gardeners/board members,” she said. “We had planned for a larger number, but many ended up having to take the SAT that morning.”

Davis said she believes more projects like these will encourage more young people to get involved with the Community Gardens, or with the idea of volunteering in general.

“Our students enjoyed the opportunity,” she said. “From my perspective, it is always great to see more mature members of our community work alongside our youth. I think everyone benefits from these experiences.

Davis is hopeful for additional opportunities to partner with the Community Gardens in the future.

“I think we will pursue future involvement,” she said. “Supporting the garden is a plus, but the learning and relationships that could be fostered from this partnership would certainly be valuable.”

Community Gardens board member Sandra Woods said her organization is involved in a number of projects growing in the community, in an effort to bring in more people. She said she appreciates the willingness of students at Union Grove to be a part of that process.

“We were thrilled to have them participate and helping the Community Garden,” said Woods. “Not only were they so gracious to help out in decorating, but they also gave up their time on a Saturday, which is very commendable.”

Woods noted that one of the reasons for decorating the garden was to support the Christmas tree lighting ceremony that took place Dec. 10 at Heritage Park. She added that the Community Gardens leadership is working on a volunteer program for the community, and that the students at Union Grove High were the first to participate.

“Our next project will be in the springtime,” said Woods. “We’re looking for people to help at our Wesley Way Garden, where they provide food for our local food pantries. This year, they provided over 12,000 pounds of freshly-grown vegetables at the Wesley Way Garden.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Community Gardens, call 770-954-0000 or e-mail communitygardens@bellsouth.net.