Garden project sprouts other key developments

Published 10:10 am Monday, June 26, 2017

The persistent rain that drenched Vicksburg for much of the week gave way to clear skies Saturday just in time for the Community Garden to celebrate the opening of its new quarter-mile walking trail.

Saturday’s event also served as the official launch of the Community Garden’s farmers market, and an announcement of a dog park being planned by the Leadership Vicksburg class.

“It is an educational farmers market,” garden organizer Linda Fondren said. “What we hope to have are cooking demonstrations, so how to prepare the produce. We are used to using sometimes the wrong types of oils when we cook so we are going to have a more nutritious way to cook those.”

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Saturday’s demonstration was given by Newks general manager William Furlong, who showed attendees how to use their fresh fruits and vegetables to make a simple watermelon salad with a vinaigrette made from olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper jelly.

The harvest at the garden, which includes squash, zucchini, corn, tomatoes and more, is starting to come in, but Fondren said “the watermelons aren’t quite ready yet.”

“We are hoping once a week to have an educational farmers market,” Fondren said. “Right now we are working on what day that will be. It will either Wednesday or Thursday evening.”

The new walking trail, that was unveiled Saturday, wraps around the garden, and there is also a new playground for children and workout equipment including pull up bars and a bench to do sit-ups.

“Every Saturday,” Marlene McMorris, who attended the event Saturday, said of when she plans to use the walking trail. “I’ve already started walking, so I think it will help me spiritually and physically.

“I think this is great. I really enjoyed walking around and looking at the different trees. I was surprised I saw a pear tree already bearing and I saw a fig tree. I hadn’t seen a fig tree in a long time.”

The planned dog park, which will be a project of the current Leadership Vicksburg class, will be built near the garden, which is located near the Vicksburg airport, and will include separate areas for large and small dogs.

“We are hoping to erect it and have it open to the public sometime this fall,” Lurline Simmons, with Leadership Vicksburg, said. “We are currently applying for a grant through PetSafe.

“The dog park itself will be approximately an acre and it will be an unleashing area, so when you enter the gate you can take your dog off and let them roam free.”

The goal is the walking trail and dog park will turn the garden into a gathering place for the community.

“We are calling this a community park,” Fondren said. “It brings people out, it builds social bonds, it builds community friendships. When we start coming together that is when we help one another.”