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Community garden group plants a seed
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They’ve got an 8,000 square-foot plot of land and an even bigger dream.

Springs and Community, a new nonprofit in South Hall, soon will sow the first phase of its vision to provide for those in need. The soil is already tilled in front of The Springs Church on Spout Springs Road for the community garden the agency hopes to plant there, the first community garden nationwide connected to the infamous Eden Project in the United Kingdom.

Though the dirt is turned, the community garden project is in its infancy with plans to coordinate with South Hall schools like Spout Springs Elementary and Flowery Branch Elementary. The project has some pretty notable connections.

Mike Metallo, president of the National Gardeners’ Association, spoke about the importance of community and school gardens Saturday at one of the nonprofit’s organizational meetings.

“When (kids) get to pick and eat their own tomato, it can be one of the only positive experiences they get to experience in their whole year,” Metallo said.

The National Gardeners’ Association has developed a relationship with the Eden Project, a land reclamation and garden project based in the U.K., and plans to start a sister program in the United States.

Though there are many community and school gardens across the country, Metallo said there has yet to be a centralized effort to create such gardens.

The Springs Church will be the first site of that centralized effort to bring all the pieces of community gardening together, Metallo said.

“This program can be a model for others across the country,” Metallo said. “... This could be the seed for a sweeping change across the country.”

Bob Boudreaux, one of the organizers of Springs and Community, said the garden will serve families in need in South Hall. He said the organization also plans to partner with Spouts Springs and Flowery Branch Elementary schools by installing gardens on undeveloped land on their campuses.

But Boudreaux said the gardens are only a small part of the group’s vision to improve the South Hall community. Springs and Community has youth intervention programs, a “pay-if-you-can” restaurant that will teach kids how to cook, a community theater and community soccer fields in its sights.

“We really want to make a difference in the community,” he said.

While the ambition is big for the small community group, Metallo likened the small start to the fate of the tiny mustard seed that grows into a large tree.

“Everything begins from somewhere,” Metallo said. “Everything starts from seed.”