People & Places with Pierce: Hundreds in Harrisburg

Augusta’s Harrisburg community is home to just over 3000 people, and one group has set out to make life a little more nutritious in a part of the city that is a food desert.

Emily Martin, garden educator with the group Augusta Locally Grown, explains how one project is helping: “Hundreds in Harrisburg: it’s a program to get garden boxes put into the backyards, front yards, side yards, of the houses in Harrisburg. There’s no place for them to go buy fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis so why not grow them.”

The Hallenbeck family is new to Harrisburg but they’ve quickly dug in.

David Hallenbeck, a Harrisburg resident who is part of the project says: “I’m growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, corn, herbs.”

“We go through the gardens and we do some weeding and we check to see what’s growing well, what’s not, what pest problems are happening and we address those,” said Martin.

“She taught me a few things,” added Hallenbeck.

“It’s the whole concept of teach a man to fish: teach a man to garden,” said Martin. “It’s fantastic to have fresh. There’s nothing like it.”

The Hallenbeck family has plenty of space to expand their garden and they’ve got some pretty big plans to do just that in the future.

“We’ve got 160 feet of backyard to use for a garden if we want,” said Hallenbeck. “I want to kind of expand it so we can have more vegetables and some fruits and stuff in there, some berries and what not so the neighborhood can have something fresh to eat and we can too.”

“This is incredibly nutritious wholesome fresh produce and we can grow year-round,” said Martin.

“If we get enough of a variety it’ll help them so they don’t have to spend so much money for foods and stuff,” said Hallenbeck.

“We can spend a dollar on a packet of seeds and grow 30 pounds of cucumbers for that dollar so that input and the nutrition that comes out of that is unreal and it’s so valuable for the families,” said Martin.

“It helps us out with the vegetables and stuff that we don’t have to buy at the store which saves us a considerable sum,” said Hallenbeck.

“There’s still an enormous amount of houses in Harrisburg that don’t have gardens and don’t have our raised beds in the program,” said Martin. “We would like to change that.”

Change is coming, one four by four raised garden bed at a time.

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