A new greenhouse was christened Monday morning at McClellan’s Cane Creek Community Gardens, thanks to fundraising efforts and a state grant.
Sherron Pritchett Greenhouse is named after a Calhoun County Master
Gardener who died in 2016 at age 73. Her husband, Dick Pritchett, is the
president of the county’s Master Gardeners.
place has come a long way in a short number of years,” he said Monday
at the dedication. “I asked what it would cost to get this greenhouse
going, and $35,000 later it’s here.”
The greenhouse sits at the Cane Creek Community Gardens on Justice Avenue in Anniston, beside more than 20 raised flower beds on a 17-acre plot of land.
than $35,000 was raised to fund the project — $20,000 raised by the
Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council. Officials
from the council attribute the $15,000 grant to state representatives
K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville and Del Marsh, R-Anniston. Brown delivered a
giant check for $15,000 to the Master Gardeners on Monday morning.
gonna do all we can do in our power to make sure these projects stay
funded,” Brown said of his office. “I’m very pleased that this could be
done in the memory of Sherron. She was a beautiful person and left this
life way too soon.”
said he couldn’t think of anything more fitting to honor Sherron
Pritchett than a greenhouse, and he can’t wait to see how it evolves
since he comes from a family of gardeners.
“My mother and grandmother had very green thumbs,” he said. “My grandmother could take a leaf and grow a tree.”
greenhouse will be wonderful for the county Master Gardeners, according
to Heidi Richards, executive director of the Coosa Valley Resource
Conservation and Development Council. She said the council receives
state money every year, but this grant helped allow them to complete
this special project.
greenhouse will help build the skills of Calhoun County Master
Gardeners, according to David West, County Extension Office coordinator
and representative on the Coosa Valley Conservation and Development
Master Gardener is a designation given by the American Horticultural Society to those who have completed extensive training and research in gardening. Master Gardeners then go out in their communities and educate others and work on various planting projects.
through our Master Gardener training out here,” West said, “which
requires 40 hours of training and they have to give back 50 hours of
service in their first year.”
said the new digs will allow the gardeners to grow plants regardless of
season and help landscapers keep the entire community garden fresh and
“It’s a much nicer greenhouse than I planned on having here,” he said. “We have a good cooling system and watering system here.”
of the greenhouse plants have been contracted by a grower, according to
West, which means the questions of what to grow and whether it will
sell have been answered already. He said the greenhouse will sell
Japanese maples in a fundraiser to help with the cost of running the
I walk in I get excited just looking at the plants and things we’re
growing,” Pritchett said. “Hopefully we’ll turn a profit real soon.”
Cane Creek Community Gardens is a nationally certified Nature Explore Classroom, certified by the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System was a vital partner in the efforts to create these classrooms. Calhoun County Extension coordinator Dr. David West says these classrooms provide well-crafted and effective outdoor learning spaces for children.
Cane Creek Community Gardens has been an Extension project since its creation in 2007. West says that Extension was originally assigned a community garden project at the former Fort McClellan to assist with economic redevelopment. The Gardens and Outdoor Classroom now has become part of a larger 17-acre Cane Creek Sustainability Center.
“After our success with that project, we expanded to include a wooded area with two creeks. We developed this into an outdoor classroom area that has been used for our Fall Festival and Earth Day activities for the last several years. Each summer, Camp Cane Creek, a day camp for 6- to 12-year-olds, is held there.”
At Cane Creek, Extension crafted learning areas around the existing natural areas, blending it into the landscape. The Calhoun County Commission and the Coosa Valley RC&D Council provided essential funding for the classroom project. Both sites were designed with the assistance of students and faculty from the Auburn University Department of Horticulture.
Nature Explore Classrooms are part of the Nature Explore program, a collaborative project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. Developed in response to the growing disconnect between children and nature, certified Nature Explore Classrooms are designed to help fill the void by educating young children using research-based principles for integrating nature into their daily learning.
ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) – Across a side road from Long Leaf Lodge at McClellan lies about four fenced acres containing land and buildings where dummy weapons and other accoutrements of Army training were fashioned decades ago.
But over the past several weeks, in a virtual transition from swords to plowshares, the site – called Cane Creek Community Garden – has become home to zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, Confederate roses and angel trumpets, among other species. Some have found a new home at the Anniston Museum of Natural History, while others are destined for the outdoor classroom at Wellborn Elementary School. Although it’s not ready to accept plants that produce food for public consumption, the community garden at McClellan is enjoying a good start as a nursery for ornamental plants.
Calhoun County Extension Coordinator David West is pleased because the project gives his department its very own dirt to dig in for instructional purposes. “It’s a great asset for us and a great asset for the community because we have a site for education programs,” West said. Rather than talk about the concept of drip irrigation, for example, “we can go outside and try it.” Earlier plans to allow private individuals to grow food in the garden are on hold pending additional tests on the soil to make sure no metallic poisons exist. “We’ll do some more testing as well so we can be as certain as we can be,” West said. “We hope to know more by next spring” based on those tests.
“In the meantime,” he added, “we’re going to still use the site for educational activities.” Details on public usage of the garden, including policies and fees, will be worked out later via a committee drawn from the Extension office and its master gardener program, West said. Reclamation of the long-unused space began in June through the combined effort of the Joint Powers Authority (the land’s legal owner) the Calhoun County Commission, the Extension Office and its Calhoun County Master Gardener program. Additional labor and material was contributed by the county road department and the landfill.
The effort was actually twofold, because in addition to the land itself, a general-purpose storage and utility building thought to date from the early 1940s has been reclaimed from the ravages of disuse. Calhoun County Environmental Enforcement Officer David Pirritano, who led the effort, points out instances where the restoration retained original features – such as light fixtures – or used planks from other fort buildings believed to have been built at the same time. Concessions to modernity include new wiring and new windows. An outdoor but roofed portion of the building already has been used for a master gardener class in drip irrigation. Auditorium chairs taken from the former McClellan movie theater provided seating for the attendees.
The three plots that make up the garden itself are the domain of Tammy Shipp, a White Plains native and master gardener hired to oversee the garden’s daily activity. A grant from Auburn University to the Extension office pays her wages. These days, Shipp is happy about her pumpkins, dismayed by her cosmos. “They should be a lot larger, but we didn’t have water out here for the longest time,” she said, gesturing to a patch of the pinkish-purple flowers.
Irrigation lines for city water were installed in July, saving many of the plants from desiccation. As for the familiar fall gourds, they are thriving in a space that until relatively recently was a tar-and-gravel parking lot. Ten rows of white plastic hold in moisture and fertilizer to nourish about 20 plants in each row. They’re known as 60- day pumpkins for the time it takes them to mature. Shipp reported Friday afternoon that she already can see the beginnings of a pumpkin, about a fingertip large, on one plant. Eventually the pumpkins will be harvested and painted by children at an Extension fall festival Oct. 13.
Over time, expansion plans for the site include the possibility of a greenhouse, compost bins and a garden specifically for children, said Shipp. Extension Coordinator David West says he’d like to hear from any Army retirees or their families who have knowledge of “Building 7,” the structure restored in conjunction with the Cane Creek Community Garden. He can be reached at 237-1621.
Information from: The Anniston Star, http://www.annistonstar.com/ Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.