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Community Garden Provides Families with Fresh, Healthy Food

Original Source - Williamson Herald

by Carole Robinson

This year’s United Way Day of Action in Williamson County was a day of celebration – a day to thank the many members of the community who came together to help residents of the Franklin Estate Mobile Home Village create a garden.

“Never in my wildest dreams could I have dreamed this would be this big – this wonderful – never,” Debbie Rainey, volunteer engagement manager for the United Way of Williamson County, said of the celebration and the garden – the reason for the party.

There has been a lot of talk about people going hungry, Rainey said, so when she needed projects for Indiana college students on a mission trip to Williamson County, an idea became obvious. The students helped develop a healthy eating curriculum emphasizing good food choices for the Boys & Girls Club and went on to clear areas for the children to create a vegetable garden.

The next step was to create a community garden where people live and help them become self-sufficient, Rainey said.

She went after and received a grant from the Tennessee Parks and Recreation Association. The grant provided funds to get a garden started with items like garden tools, an irrigation system and plants and seeds. Then she approached Allen Franks, the manager of Franklin Estates Mobile Home Village, about a community garden. 

“I was so ready for him to say no, I almost didn’t hear him say yes,” Rainey said.

Franks provided half an acre of land for the garden, and members of the community stepped up. Tractor Supply provided a rototiller, the Farmers Co-op was “beyond helpful” and men from the First United Methodist Church plowed and tilled.

Potatoes, squash, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, corn, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and watermelon were planted. 

“In July, the children will plant jack-o’-lanterns,” Rainey said. 

The goal was to teach people how to provide their own renewable, sustainable, healthy food source.

“We wanted to inspire the community to plant a garden on their own and take ownership,” Rainey explained.

If she can get another grant, Rainey said she’d like to create gardens in subsidized housing.

“We should do more [gardens] in places where people live and help them become self-sufficient,” she said. “This is such an opportunity for people who live in apartments to learn to fend for themselves.”