An Alexandria man is seeking donations and volunteers to develop a community garden park on property owned by the Town of Alexandria.
Ricky Harris has already received permission from the Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen to proceed with the project. "I would like to do a revitalization of the old park behind the Osborne grocery store. Its roughly right at four acres. It's actually been untouched for a little over 20 years. It's just an overgrowth field," Harris told WJLE.
At first Harris thought about doing something on a smaller scale as a way of giving back to his community but later decided on a garden park because it would serve a greater number of people. "I serve on the Board for my church the First Baptist Church of Alexandria for Community Projects. What I was originally thinking was to reach out to four or five families and maybe try to do some yard work and that sort of thing. But it occurred to me that we had a bigger project at hand that would affect the whole community," he said.
Although work has begun to clear the property from brush and overgrowth, Harris said more help is needed. " The first phase is to get the property clear. I've actually already went in and done some clearing. We've cleared the lower bottom part of it now and opened it up. Right now I'm primarily doing it with volunteers so I'm looking for volunteers to help me. Saturday, January 2 is the actual kick-off date. That's the date we want volunteers to come out and start helping with chainsaws and clearing some more of the brush back. I figured January 2 would be a good day starting the new year," Harris continued.
Once the land is cleared, Harris hopes to develop the park for all ages to enjoy. " I want to open up the park itself for the community. The overall goal is to put in picnic tables and a walking trail with a bridge over a brook that's already there. There is a pad for basketball goals. But I would eventually like to have a place for the kids to come and be a part of a garden that we want to put in. A raised bed garden. There's actually a push that has been going on in Tennessee if you watch PBS. It's called Pick Green Tennessee. There's been projects throughout the whole state. I know one that has taken place in Chattanooga where they took some land and opened it up. They went in and re-did it putting in a garden which got kids off the street and gave them something hands on to do to help them stay out of trouble so to speak but it also gave them a place to go and reunite with others and talk about their issues. They can reap what they sow as well and help feed their families," said Harris.
Anyone who would like to volunteer or give a donation to the effort is welcome to do so. "We're actually going to reach out to local businesses and also to the public. If anybody would like to make a monetary donation or help by donating materials they can talk to mayor Bennett Armstrong. Overall, probably $4,500 is what we need to cover it. We plan to do it in phases but we would like to have it done before Easter to do a community Easter Egg Hunt. If anyone wants to help they can contact me personally at 615- 306-9033," Harris concluded.