SPRUCE PINE – The empty plot of land next to Riverside Park that was previously the location of a trailer park will be repurposed as a community garden.
The Spruce Pine Town Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 11, unanimously approved a decision to offer the land to a group planning to start a community gardening project that will grow fresh produce to be delivered to residents facing food insecurity.
Florence Grant, one of the project’s organizers, approached the council during the meeting and gave a presentation about her vision for the garden.
“Individuals and families in this area don’t always have access to the food they need to live healthy lives,” she said. “These needs have to be met.”
Grant said local groups like Shepherd’s Staff and Neighbors Feeding Neighbors are doing great work to battle local food insecurities. Still, she added fresh produce is another factor that needs to be considered in the area.
“Fresh produce is really important in this context because of its health benefits,” she said. “It’s expensive and hard to keep and distribute. Our project will create a local source of fresh food.”
Grant said her group is “exploring funding sources” and added she wasn’t at the meeting to ask the town for any money, but rather to ask them to consider letting her group use the land at Riverside.
Distribution, Grant added, will ideally be handled through a partnership with local food banks and food ministries.
After Grant’s presentation, Spruce Pine Mayor Darla Harding said she supported Grant’s request to use the land and asked the council for their consensus of approval.
Harding said since the trailer park moved from the plot of land at Riverside, the land has been discussed and considered multiple times for different purposes, but nothing ever came to fruition.
“I guess it’s been sitting there waiting for you,” Harding said. “This is a great use of that field.”
The council agreed with Harding and thanked Grant for her efforts.
Grant, who grinned from ear to ear after the council’s decision, said the Riverside plot is ideal because of its accessibility for volunteers, public parking and its access to the public restrooms in the park.
Grant thanked the council for their support of the project and added that having the garden in Riverside will give the project transparency and a public face.
“Everyone’s going to be thrilled,” Grant said. “This will be a really welcoming spot.”