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March 11, 2013

VISTO garden will feed area families

Gainesville — Volunteers in Service to Others (VISTO) is ready to sign up both experienced and rookie gardeners for the Elm Street Community Garden in downtown Gainesville.  

This is the VISTO community garden’s third year and the plots are waiting to be adopted and filled with plants to help feed families and individuals in the community.

Suzanne Yeager is the VISTO Community Garden liaison and is now accepting reservations.   

“The community garden helps people become food independent,” Yeager said. “The program teaches others who might have limited experience in gardening to be self sufficient in providing food for their family. As market prices escalate, it becomes more important for us to find other ways to afford proper nutrition.”

The community garden is not a new idea. Across the United States in small towns and big cities, communities are coming together to be more proactive in fighting hunger.

The VISTO mission is to provide food for needy families and to teach others to be self sufficient. It involves teaching others, who may have limited experience in gardening, how they can grow their own food even if it is only a patio garden in containers on their balcony.  

Yeager is working to get the wooden raised garden plots repaired where needed in anticipation of spring planting.

“Most everyone likes the summer garden with tomato, zucchini, peppers, water melons etc,” she said. “ The gardens sit for most of the winter and the wooden boxes weather a little but they still look good and we anticipate spaces will go fast.”

A garden plot may be paid through donations of $30 per year, ten percent of crop yield or by providing ten hours of service in the garden.

“Most individuals donate their time,” Yeager said. “ They are out here anyway and ten hours passes quickly.”

The American Community Garden Association (ACGA) website states that community gardens are valuable assets to communities.

 To find out how to participate in this year’s community garden call Suzanne Yeager at the VISTO office at 668-6403.

Youth groups are also urged to participate in the garden program and assist in cleanup for spring planting.

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