Garden established to feed hungry

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

CONYERS -- The Rockdale Master Gardeners applied their green thumbs Friday to planting a community vegetable garden to benefit the local food bank and senior center.

The garden is planted on land donated by Dixie Graphics and includes the basics that any backyard warrior would recognize -- tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, peas, beans and petunias.

"They help attract pollinators," said Janie Mitchell, who was putting a few of the flowers at the end of a row of peas.

The vegetable garden is part of the national Plant A Row for the Hungry effort to provide fresh, locally grown vegetables to the hungry. Work on the garden began Friday. It is the second year the Master Gardeners has planted a garden. Last year, the vegetable garden produced 1,000 pounds of vegetables for Rockdale Emergency Relief and the Rockdale County Senior Center.

Larry Ward, a Master Gardener and chairman of the Plant A Row committee that organizes the garden, said he hopes they can do better this year.

"We're a volunteer organization, and we're always looking for the opportunity to help the community," Ward said. "Seems that it was a logical step for us to plant a garden that can benefit the community in a way to make people's lives better."

The Master Gardeners may be able to top last year's efforts with the new garden space. The garden is located in an unused baseball field behind the Dixie Graphics building, located off Sigman Road. Near where second base used to be stood Frank Longshore, president of the Rockdale County Master Gardeners. He had started planting tomatoes in a row that stretched toward the first base coach's box.

"Home-grown vegetables are so much better that commercially grown vegetables," Longshore said as he worked his hoe into the ground. "With commercial growers, taste is not their primary concern. Storage is. They will grow stuff designed to have a long shelf life and is easy to transport. Home-grown vegetables don't last as long, but taste so much better."

The community vegetable garden is the latest project by the Master Gardeners. Volunteerism is part of the training to become certified as a Master Gardener.

Other community programs include maintenance work at the Lewis Vaughn Memorial Gardens in Olde Town Conyers and Memorial Arboretum at the Georgia International Horse Park, outreach programs such as the Junior Master Gardener and other school programs.

The Master Gardeners also offer their time at the Rockdale County Cooperative Extension office to assist residents with questions on lawn and garden care.

For more information about the Master Gardeners, call 770-278-7373 or go to the Cooperative Extension Web page at www.rockdalecounty.org.