The Kennett Square area community gathered last weekend at Spring Fest in the Park to celebrate gardening, Earth Week, Arbor Day and the area's first community garden in Anson B. Nixon Park.Spring Fest grew quickly from an idea sprouted just months ago by local dynamo Jan Geddes and her association with the Kennett Area Park Authority. "I love this park. I absolutely love it. It's very well kept. There are concerts in the summer and there's so much going on, but I just thought we needed a Spring Fest to get everyone outside to enjoy spring with their friends and family," explained Geddes owner of Pack Rats Place at the Brick Garage near the entrance to the park.

Experts from Longwood Gardens, Winterthur - a Country Estate and Mt. Cuba Center gave free informative demonstrations. Under tents around the pavilion nurseries, Garage near the entrance to the park.

Experts from Longwood Gardens, Winterthur - a Country Estate and Mt. Cuba Center gave free informative demonstrations. Under tents around the pavilion nurseries, farmers' markets and local merchants sold their goods, flowers, plants and home and garden accessories. Garden clubs, groups and plant societies featured exhibits and members offered valuable information. Demonstrations were given by the various organizations all day on the pavilion stage.

Kennett Square Mayor Leon Spencer put shovel to dirt to help representatives of Kennett Middle School and KAPA break ground on the area's first ever community garden near the playground. He commended the school, its students and their parents for following through on their commitment to make the garden happen.

Staff and students at the middle school came up with the community garden idea after completing this year's One Book - One School reading project. Alyse Halpin, KMS teacher and chair of the new Kennett Community Garden association, said the entire school read and were inspired by the novel Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. The book tells the story of a child who turned part of a rat-infested inner city lot into a garden and how her garden inspired her neighbors to start their own gardens there. The small garden plots brought the neighbors together on common ground and before long the community was as transformed as the lot itself.

The school staff and students were inspired. They approached KAPA and the organization offered the land for the garden near the playground in the park.

The Kennett Community Garden Association intends "to create a garden that will involve people of diverse backgrounds, cultures and generations. Easily accessible to the community, the garden will produce nutritious organic food, develop friendships, and generate community pride."

Middle school students in grades six, seven and eight participated in a garden design contest and winners Danielle Eland, Michael Testa and Eric Hyzny were the very first gardeners to plant the first beds in the garden Saturday.

Community members are encouraged to adopt a plot of ground - a raised bed, 3 feet wide and 10 feet long - to plant and grow their own organic garden. Each of the 39 beds will be constructed in advance with 8 inches of prepared soil. Gardeners will supply planting materials - seeds, plants and organic fertilizer - and will be responsible for their own garden throughout the season. Plots are reserved on a first come, first served basis.

KMS, the KMS PTO and the Kennett Consolidated School District, KAPA, Community Gardens of Chester County, La Comunidad Hispana and the 4-H Club of Chester County, Penn State Extension sponsor the Kennett Community Garden. Gardeners will join the sponsor representatives in the Kennett Community Garden Association to provide overall garden maintenance and supervision.

For more information on the community garden, call the park office, 610-444-1416.

o To contact Prue Osborn, e-mail prueosborn@aol.com.

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