NEWBERRY — Last month, Newberry County’s YMCA received a community development grant from Walmart that would allow the YMCA to establish a community garden.
The garden is now well under way, and is expected to be ready by the fall.
The garden is being constructed by the children in the YMCA’s summer camp and counselor in training programs while Alana West, 4H agent, oversees the work as technical advisor. The counselor in training as well as the children in the camp will also maintain the garden year round.
“The goal is to have the counselor in training, summer camp and after school kids, as well as volunteers, to maintain the garden year round,” West said.
Once the garden is complete, the YMCA will hold a special day where children will participate in the first planting.
“A few of the beds are still on back order, but once they arrive, we will have them put up and then we will plan a plant day. This will allow the kids to get into the dirt and plant vegetables,” said Khristia Webb, program coordinator for the YMCA and garden project overseer.
The children in the after school program are already starting to get excited about the garden, not only in the skills they will learn, but the impact it will bring to the YMCA.
“I am excited to not only plant crops, but for people to see what a good job we did constructing the garden,” said Brody Harkins, camp counselor in training.
Webb said that the YMCA members are also excited about the garden, and feel it will bring a positive impact to the YMCA and the community.
Although it has not been decided what vegetables will be planted, the garden will be planted year round, and each season will bring a new batch of crops that will thrive with the changing of the seasons.
Once the produce is ready to be harvested, the after school children will then learn how to cook the produce and will then be able to enjoy the meals they create during their snack period.
“The produce will go to our after school kids, all the snacks we provide are healthy and the produce will go to help enrich our after school snacks, and allow the kids to taste fresh veggies,” said Webb.
Webb also hopes that program will eventually begin to produce an excess of vegetables, so they can expand the program to include providing produce to some of the YMCA’s in need members and begin a Saturday market.
“In the future, hopefully two years, we would like to do a Saturday market right here at the YMCA, and have members of the community come and purchase the produce our kids have worked so hard to grow,” said Webb.