East side community garden gets make-over from Project Orange Thumb

75 volunteers help corporate donors upgrade garden

SAN ANTONIO - Some 75 volunteers helped Green Space Alliances, a San Antonio-based nonprofit, makeover a 6,500-square-foot garden on Center Street, with financial support from Home Depot and Fiskars.

The project is part of Fiskars' Project Orange Thumb, and community members hope it will bring more green thumbs into their neighborhood.

The volunteers had just eight hours to build new raised garden beds and move 60 cubic yards of soil and compost.

The idea is to have volunteers do the heavy lifting, so the people who garden in the community will have an easier time with upkeep.

"The startup like we're doing today takes a lot of physical energy and strength, but then the maintenance is quite a bit easier," Angela Hartsell, with Green Spaces Alliance, said.

Green Spaces said a small area in the garden can lift a large burden from a family when it comes to food costs. Just 120 square feet can feed a family of four.

But there haven't been a lot of families taking advantage of the garden. Twelve women have been working in the garden, and they hope building more beds will attract more growers.

"I used to have the prettiest garden in the area," Minnie Applewhite said. "Everybody was coming to my garden to get greens and beans."

Applewhite is picking a plot in the new garden, but she's more than happy to share the space and the work.

People in the area can sign up to plant and care for a bed, and the new activity at the garden is already drawing interest.

"I think it's going to impact the neighborhood greatly, because people here will have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. It will be a community space for people to come and talk to each other and bring the neighborhood together," Paul Tonnesen, president of Fiskars, said.

Green Spaces Alliance will help with training and volunteers at the community garden, and Fiskars donated tools that will help the gardeners grow their crops.

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