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On Wednesday, August 15, 2012 nearly 80 volunteers from Fiskars, The Home Depot, Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, and the Eastern San Antonio community braved the Texas heat to install the new East Side Neighborhood Garden on land owned by the San Antonio Housing Authority.
After loading up on bagels, pastries and coffee, volunteers gathered around to watch the ceremonial first dig. Ceremonial first dig participants included Fiskars Americas President Paul Tonnesen, local The Home Depot store manager Leticia Robles-Saldana, garden designer and PBS show host Joe Lamp’l, city councilwoman Ivy Taylor and Green Spaces Alliance’s Community Gardens Manager Angela Hartsell.
Volunteers worked against the clock and the rising temperatures to install 16 raised beds, move 120 cubic yards of soil and mulch and plant 630 plants. Raised beds were built in varying heights to accommodate children, adults and gardeners in wheelchairs. Public demand for green spaces on San Antonio’s east side is strong, and the garden coordinators hope that the new space will bring new gardeners to the area.
Volunteers and neighbors learned how to build raised beds, the proper way to plant a tree and new watering techniques throughout the day. Several volunteers left with enough ideas to start smaller gardens in their own neighborhoods. Volunteers also signed their names on the lumber used in the raised beds to leave their mark on the garden space.
In addition to planting veggies, herbs and fruit trees, volunteers also worked to beautify the Center St. space with perennial beds. Volunteers planted purple and orange lantas, Japanese boxwoods, blackeyed susans and purple coneflowers throughout the space. Four benches were built and placed in a central seating area, and two large circular benches were placed around trees in the garden.
The local Jamaba Juice store donated over 100 mini smoothies for volunteers. Lunch was served at noon and a hard-earned ice cream break was taken around 2:30 to give volunteers the energy they needed to complete the final planting and mulching before the 4:00 pm ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was well attended by proud volunteers as well as neighbors who had witnessed the garden transformation from their porches. Local officials also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony to show their support for the project. Ribbon-cutting speakers included Sarah McLornan from the office of Mayor Julian Castro, State Representative Ruth Jones McClendon, Fiskars Americas President Paul Tonnesen, The Home Depot local store manager Leticia Robles-Saldana and community member Minnie Applewhite. In addition to speakers, Bexar County commissioner Tommy Adkisson as well as Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Official Richard Perez attended. All speakers commended the project for instilling a sense of community pride and bringing positive press to San Antonio’s east side.
San Antonio, TX, August 15, 2012
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