Harrison garden coordinator Jennifer Greenwood aims to grow community spirit

After 14 years in education administration, Harrison resident Jennifer Greenwood is turning her talents away from the confines of the classroom and toward the outdoors.

As coordinator for the township’s new community garden off Burtner Road, Greenwood is eager to grow the space into more than a place to pluck produce.

“I want to make this into something bigger, a community space for all,” she said.

“I feel like the sense of community has suffered with everyone working from home the last few years.”

The Birdville Friendship Garden is a new project sponsored by the Highlands Partnership Network and Citizens Hose Fire-Rescue-EMS.

It will transform an old baseball field near the fire hall into a 1-acre garden with raised beds, a tool-lending shed and a bike-sharing space.

A $50,000 grant secured with help from state Sen. Lindsey Williams gave the project its jump-start.

Autumn Monaghan, co-chair of the Highlands Partnership Network, said that in addition to helping resolve food insecurity, the garden’s goal is to build relationships.

“We want to return to that community feeling where everyone knows everyone,” Monaghan said. “We want to remind everyone that we’re all neighbors.”

Activities at the garden will support that mission. The space is pegged to provide education on sustainability and offer resources for nearby gardens.

The grant is to be used to help sustain other community gardens, Monaghan said.

Greenwood will oversee streamlining of the assorted details to make that happen, Monaghan said.

Among other goals, Greenwood hopes to establish a weekly garden work schedule, where volunteers can donate hours not only weeding and watering, but lending talents to marketing, accounting, concessions or grant-writing.

Greenwood is developing a website and social media presence and plans to create a regular newsletter to raise awareness of the various projects and events.

The garden is accepting donations that will aid in tending to the garden, including gently used tools, outdoor lighting, decor and equipment such as lawnmowers or sheds.

A soft launch of the garden was held May 28. Since then, people have been stopping by to browse the property, pick up some free seeds and learn more about potential events.

Greenwood envisions a fall festival with food trucks and seasonal activities.

“My focus is on communications,” Greenwood said. “I want to develop a project plan and make it what people want it to be.

“We want to involve all the people we can.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, [email protected] or via Twitter .