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Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 12:00 pm

By Rose L. Thayer

Harker Heights Herald

After being open less than three weeks, the Harker Heights Community Garden already has five plots rented and the beginnings of young vegetable plants peaking through the dirt.

The 24 raised beds are fenced in near the playground at Carl Levin Park, and park goers are curious about what's going on in there.

"A lot of people come by," said Bea Thompson, who has a corner plot with flowers. "They are fascinated by the garden."

A self-described outdoors person, Thompson said she decided to rent a space because the location provides plenty of sun exposure. She said her yard is filled with trees, and plants that need constant sunlight tend not to do as well. Her plot is filled with zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and eggplants.

"I enjoy going out there," she said. "I think it was a great idea for them to start that and maybe other people will want to do it, too."

The idea for the garden stemmed from a desire to add more agriculture experiences within the city, said Sarah Rodriguez, activities specialist for Harker Heights.

"It started last year with the farmers market," she said. "The garden is the perfect tie-in. People can grow their own goods and bring more fresh produce into the household."

Jennifer Garner-Hall said she was instantly intrigued by the concept and filled her plot with eggplants, squashes and bell peppers. She said she enjoys gardening at home, but got a plot for the community aspect.

"My hope is to get to meet other people in the community and get to garden together," she said. "We are also learning from each other."

A plot is $25 for one year, or $12.50 for six months, and comes with soil that can be augmented with compost. Four of the plots are designated for children's education use, but the rest are available to the public.

"The fee helps maintain the garden. The wood and the blocks are going to need maintenance over time," said Rodriguez. "We hope in the future to put in a compost area and a rainwater harvest area."

Carl Levin Park was chosen for the location because it already had access to irrigation and is centrally located.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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