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Date of Issue: May 05, 2010

Citizen gardeners volunteer in Bradenton Beach

Several dozen citizen gardeners volunteered earlier this month to help green the Annie Silver Community Center.

The project, coordinated by the city of Bradenton Beach and funded with grants from the state and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, involves adding a rain-collection system, planting an Island landscape and creating a vegetable garden at the center, 103 23rd St.

“This will be volunteer driven,” city project/program manager Lisa Marie Phillips said, welcoming the volunteers to the center on Earth Day. “You’ll get out of it what you put into it.”

The greening at Silver involves three phases.

Phase one, funded with an SBEP grant, will involve installing gutters, downspouts and barrels at the center to collect rainwater for irrigation.

Several people volunteered to paint the rain barrels and another volunteer offered to collect bids for gutters and downspouts.

Phase two will involve indigenous landscaping.

“This is different from native plants,” Phillips said. “These will be plants native to Anna Maria Island because plants that are OK in town may not make it here.”

Phase three will involve planting a vegetable garden using salad tables — raised table-like beds for plants — and containers.

Phillips said with the use of salad tables, people need not have to bend over or kneel to tend the plants.

She stressed the intergenerational focus of the project, which is what attracted the attention of the Florida Communities for a Lifetime Initiative that awarded the city a $2,780 grant.

The age of volunteers at the meeting ranged from children in their first decade to adults in their eighth decade.

“Anything that involves children is a great direction,” said Annie Silver president Lynn Blackwood, who, during the meeting, accepted a $500 check from the Island Garden Club for seat cushions.

Volunteers will be needed to build salad tables, plot the garden, grow seeds and eventually plant seedlings.

The volunteers who attended the meeting also were asked to recruit.

“Talk to your neighbors,” Phillips said. “The idea is for this to catch on. You all are going to be pioneers.”

A grand opening of the intergenerational garden is scheduled for July 10.

However, Phillips said a harvest may not come until later in the year.

“Who’s going to cook all the vegetables?” asked volunteer George Tooker.

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