Reprinted with permission of The Cullman Tribune.
HANCEVILLE – At the Hanceville City Council meeting Thursday evening, Wallace State Community College (WSCC) Grant Specialist Kristi Barnett announced that the college’s awaited community garden, introduced to the council last December, is finally set to open next Saturday, June 23, with a work day at the site on the WSCC campus.
The WSCC Community Garden will allow people to cultivate their own gardens with direct assistance from school and AmeriCorps VISTA staff, to put food that they raised from seeds on their own tables, and to gather for instruction and simple socializing in an attractive outdoor setting.
Almost 14 percent of Cullman County’s population, including nearly 24 percent of its children, suffer from what program leaders term “food insecurity,” going without meals, wondering where the next load of groceries will come from, and having to settle for cheaper non-nutritious foods due to financial insecurity.
One of the incidents that prompted the project was a conversation between a WSCC student and faculty member over concerns about the student’s health. When the conversation came around to his diet, the student pointed out that he could buy a week’s worth of ramen noodles and mac and cheese for the cost of a single bag of apples.
AmeriCorps VISTA staffer Hannah Kren, one of the project’s coordinators, told The Tribune after the introduction in December, “The project started because we realized there is a problem with food security, not only with Wallace’s students, but also with the larger community. So we wanted to have something that allowed people to supplement and make their budget go farther, and we thought a community garden would be a great addition. It not only acts as a way for people to have access to growing their own food, especially if they’re renters or lack ability to do it at their own property. But it also provides another green space for the public to enjoy.”
The garden will open with 16 raised beds in which families or individuals may rent plots for $10 per month, or two hours of community service per month.
“Nobody will be turned away,” said Barnett. “If they want to garden, we’re here for them.”
The garden is a project of WSCC’s Future Foundation. Barnett told The Tribune, “We are so excited about it . . . We’re doing it all through fundraising. We’ve partnered with the city, we’ve partnered with the college. It’s an exciting thing, and I can’t wait to get it started.”