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Another community garden sprouts in Janesville

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
June 23, 2009
— Jennye Byrns and her children Maverick, 7, and Gypsy, 6, tended their raised vegetable garden Monday morning in Washington Park.

As they pulled weeds and removed dead leaves, a breeze drifted beneath a giant shade tree on North Washington Street. Dogs barked in the distance and a bird sang.


Every day the Byrns family walks a block from their Madison Street home to the park in the Look West Neighborhood to check their garden. Theirs is among nine 4-by-8-foot raised beds adopted by neighborhood residents.


"If it hasn't rained, we water," Jennye said. "Everything is really thriving."


They're growing tomatoes, peas, green peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, squash and carrots.


"I dug the holes. They planted," she said of her children.


The Neighborhood Action Team, a group led by neighbors and facilitated by city staff, created the second neighborhood garden in May. The first was established last spring in a vacant, city-owned lot near Wilson Elementary School, said Kelly Lee, city neighborhood development specialist.


"The first garden was so successful, we decided last fall to put one in this park as well. It's in the heart of the neighborhood, and there wasn't any other vacant lot feasible," Lee said.


Brian Schlaefer, a member of the Neighborhood Action Team who lives on North Terrace Street, built the cedar raised garden beds. A dozen local businesses, the city and Parker High School FFA sponsored the new gardens with donations and supplies valued at $4,000.


He said the gardens help improve neighborhood relations.


"I enjoy it, and it's fun to see," he said.


Neighbor Margaret Delaney agreed the community garden is good for her Look West Neighborhood.


"With the economy and the way things are going, it's not only good to have the fresh produce, it's a wonderful way to share and for all the kids to learn about gardening," she said.



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