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Volunteers plant community garden

Small hands and large dropped seeds and placed plants into the dirt Saturday morning, the beginnings of a community garden that volunteers hope will flourish along with a trend toward more healthy living.

The community garden at East Brewton’s Fort Crawford Park was dedicated Saturday in honor of military and first responders, a nod to the Sept. 11 date on which the first plants went into the ground.

“These people risk their lives every day for us,” community garden project coordinator Amy Cooley said. “Thank you for your dedication to keeping our community safe.”

In addition to representatives from local police, fire and sheriff’s departments and military, the Boy Scouts were on hand to help plant a tree donated by Dixon Nursery.

The community garden project is part of a three-pronged effort to fight childhood obesity. The Healthy Children effort, funded in part by a grant and fostered by the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County, will focus on the community gardens; transforming the current Brewton Middle School into a community center when it is vacated next year; and encouraging exercise among local youth with new walking trails and other activities.

Brewton pediatrician Dr. Marsha Raulerson has spear-headed the effort and secured grant funding for the projects.

“The goal is that 10 years from now, children will choose to eat healthy,” she said. “When children plant something, they are more likely to eat it.”

Cooley said more community gardens are expected to be planted in Atmore and Flomaton by next year.

The community garden in East Brewton — planted with fall vegetables like red cabbage and collards on Saturday — is one of the first steps toward emphasizing a healthy lifestyle.

Raulerson said volunteers will help maintain the garden, and she hopes that, as they did on Saturday, young and old will continue to partner to help the garden grow.

“This is exciting,” she said.