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Cresswind unveils community garden space
Cresswinds on Lanier residents Betty Goetz, left, and Carolyn Snyder look over one of the raised beds Wednesday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the new community garden. - photo by Tom Reed

Above the entryway to the garden hangs a painted sign that reads “Common Ground.”

Inside the garden, bordered by a blue picket fence, neighbors gather to celebrate the beginning of a beautiful thing.

The garden club at Cresswind at Lake Lanier, an active adult community in Gainesville, has built its own community garden. The club celebrated with a ribbon-cutting and champagne ceremony Wednesday evening.

Garden club President Bill Brackner said construction of the garden has taken a lot of hard work but members have all shared in the effort.

Kolter Homes LLC, developer of Cresswind, funded the community garden while residents provided the labor.

Brackner said Kolter sees the community garden as another amenity offered to residents, which also is how garden club members see it.

“That’s why I don’t feel badly about painting a trellis or doing any of the things I do,” Brackner said. “Because it’s all for the community and making it a better and nicer place to live.”

The garden currently has 20 raised beds and room for 20 more. A small shed in the back of the garden holds supplies club members will need in as they grow the garden. An irrigation system using well water will be installed in the next few weeks.

The club plans to plant eight fruit trees and a row of grapes along the back fence. Plants in the raised beds will vary by season but will include vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.

Everything inside the blue fence will be cared for by club members, each one responsible for her or her own garden bed, among other tasks.

Since the club started last year with 14 people, it has grown to include more than 40 gardeners.

Three Hall County Master Gardeners offer assistance and encouragement to others who may not know as much about the care of local flora.

“There are some people who say, ‘I don’t do too much gardening but I am interested,’” said Bill Dickey, master gardener and one of the club’s founding members. “Plus they’ve got all this time now that they’re retired to do that. So this is really a learning experience for a lot of people.”

The garden club holds monthly meetings with presentations from guest speakers. Marsha Dickey, Bill Dickey’s wife and master gardener, said she hopes more master gardeners eventually will join the club.

As the community grows, she said, there will be more opportunities to grow the club. The community currently has about 200 homes but intends to build another 500.

Marsha Dickey said environmental resources in the community have been beneficial to creating the garden.

“We have resources we can call on in the county,” Marsha Dickey said. “This county is wonderful with all the different things we have. It’s really amazing.”

As the crops grow in the coming months and years, the garden club intends to harvest the produce and sell it to other residents as a way of paying for maintenance of the garden.

The garden offers residents and club members a fun, healthy outdoor activity that fits the community’s lifestyle.

“We emphasize the word ‘active,’” Brackner said. “You look around, you might see a lot of gray hair. But these guys kayak, they play tennis, and they garden.”