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South Rome Community Garden thriving with volunteer assistance

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There is growth in South Rome, and it is coming from a patch of earth receiving the attention of concerned residents as well as those simply looking to give back.

Almost a year after it was open, the South Rome Community Garden is showing signs of life. More than half of its plant beds are rented and volunteers have made it a point to take care of the rest of the plot at 607 Pennington Ave.

“It’s been going well,” said Roy Hudson, a neighbor in South Rome who has been the de facto manager of the property.

“We’re real proud of this lot up here,” Hudson said. “Some of us come up here some days and stay four or five hours tending to it.”

Hudson and his friends got some younger help Wednesday. A group of Atlanta-area students attending the C5 Georgia Youth Leadership camp arrived to do some work around the garden, which is a program of the South Rome Redevelopment Corp.

Demitri Curry, the camp director for first-year students, said the program focuses on high-potential at-risk kids and follows them through high school.

“Berry College is my dream school,” Curry said. “While I didn’t get to go to school there, we connected through Berry to find out about this and selected it as our community service project.”

Curry said he is bringing a different group of students to the garden today and Friday to help out for a few hours in the afternoon.

Wednesday’s students were putting topsoil in some of the 13 small plant beds so they would be ready for planting.

“They will be our student beds,” Hudson said. “They are going to be for Anna K. Davie students — but, really, they’ll be for any students who want to come down here and plant something.”

Construction of the new Anna K. Davie Elementary School just a block away from the garden has been the most visible evidence of the growth in South Rome.

But the people who rent space at the 18,000-square-foot garden say their experience growing things — many for the first time — has been a welcomed change.

“I got 20 ears of corn just the other week,” said Katherine Sanders. “It’s amazing what’s coming out of here.”

Sanders had never tried her hand at gardening before, but now has enough squash and cucumbers to give out to people in the community.

“It really is a grassroots program,” said Lynn Ray, chairman of the SRRC beauty and aesthetics committee. “That’s why we like the community angle. It’s all of the people working together to make it successful.”

It costs $20 a year to rent a 4-by-15-foot raised garden bed, and $40 a year for a 4-by-30-foot bed. An in-ground 25-by-30-foot plot costs $100 a year. The money covers the water.

Those interested or wanting more information can call the South Rome Redevelopment Corp. at 706-235-8626.