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YMCA Hernando Builds a Community Garden

Hernando County YMCA Branch wins $10,000 grant from Lowes for a community garden

A new community garden promises to bloom forth with ebullient florals and life-sustaining foods for the people of Hernando–also growing a veritable bounty of rich community pride.  

The Hernando County YMCA branch, 1300 Mariner Blvd in Spring Hill, has started a community garden with the aid of a $10,000 grant from Lowes’ “100 Hometowns” contest. The Y’s impact project was chosen from more than 2,200 submissions that form the cornerstone of 100 Hometowns, an initiative intended to celebrate Lowe’s centennial.

“The final projects span 36 states and help thousands of people from coast to coast, each of them with a unique story to tell,” said information provided by YMCA Communications Manager Kelli Biandudi. “After 100 years of working in, living in and improving communities across America, Lowe’s understands first hand the promise of possibility. After 100 years of serving communities, Lowe’s revealed 100 impact projects across the U.S. serving as the cornerstone of 100 Hometowns, an initiative to celebrate Lowe’s centennial. 100 Hometowns gives Lowe’s an opportunity to demonstrate how we are empowering the possibility of making homes – and communities - better for all, now and for the next 100 years. The program celebrates Lowe’s 100-year anniversary with impact projects in 100 communities across America this fall.”

Lowes employees and volunteers gathered to launch this project Wednesday, September 29th from 8 am -1 pm, with the garden expected for completion by October 31st.  They started things off by building the site’s pathways and garden beds.  

The YMCA Community Garden, planned in conjunction with the local extension office of the Master Gardener program, will be a horticultural mecca offering a medium-sized seasonal vegetable garden, featuring fall vegetables, such as carrots, beets, romaine lettuce, broccoli & cauliflower; a butterfly garden with Firebush and other native flowers to attract the butterflies and honey bees; a seasonal herb garden; and a reflection area designed by YMCA teen leaders, where things like Coleus, Mexican Heather, Aztec Grass, and African Iris will grow. 

“One of our main goals at the Y is to be aware of the needs of our community and to help satisfy those needs,” said Melissa Jonas, Maintenance Director, YMCA of the Suncoast – Hernando. “A few years ago, a much-loved volunteer saw the need for a community garden, but we were unable to bring it to fruition at the time. It’s an idea that’s been on a back burner for a few years, just waiting for the right opportunity to come around.” 

Jonas intends the garden to be a virtual hub of activity for the people of Hernando County–as well as a site of learning and growing that will provide sustenance for the community.

“The garden will be run by a great group of active adults, as well as our energetic teen leaders.  The active adults have so much knowledge to share, and the teens have the ability to do the harder work,” she said. “So by putting the two groups together, the active adults don’t have to give up their love of gardening because they can’t do the heavier work anymore, and in turn, they can share that knowledge with the teens, teaching them a valuable lifelong skill.  The younger kids in our KidZone can help plant and learn as well, plus the hope is we can help with a little of the food scarcity in Hernando County.”

Jonas feels that the community garden project was an ideal fit for the Lowes grant.

“I saw an advertisement online about Lowes looking to celebrate 100 hometowns, and knew this was the time to propose our community garden,” said Jonas. “Spring Hill has such a wonderful hometown vibe, and such a caring community, that I knew once Lowes heard about us and what we wanted to do, that we would have a good chance of getting our garden.” 

As might be expected, the community is invited to play a vital role in the garden grown just for them.

“During the month of October, we will be planting and decorating the garden area,” said Jonas. “After that, members of the community are welcome to join us at the Y and be a part of the running of the garden. Plus donations of seeds and gently used gardening equipment is always welcome.”

To be a part or learn more about the YMCA Community Garden, call the Hernando County YMCA at 352-688-9622. And to spread your own positive community news, send your good news to community reporter Megan Hussey at the Hernando Sun, megan@hernandosun.com. Show Us Your Sunshine!

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