Editor's note: Because incorrect information was provided the newspaper the cost to lease a raised vegetable garden bed in the community garden at the Augusta State Farmers Market was incorrectly reported in a previous version of this story. It costs $50 per year.
Also because incorrect information was provided, previous captions incorrectly reported who donated the land. It was the state.
A new community garden is sprucing up the neighborhood at the Augusta State Farmers Market on Fifth Street.
Fireside Ministries & Industries, a nonprofit organization run by Phin and Jan Hitchcock, has built 40 raised vegetable garden beds on the market’s grounds. Anyone from the community can lease a bed for one year for $25.
“It’s secure, and that pays for the water for the year. They can come in and grow whatever they want to in it. Organic soil is already in there. It’s a wonderful way to have a garden in the city,” Phin Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock said that someone will be there to teach people how to garden.
“It’s just a beautiful public view. Eleven thousand cars a day come through here,” he said. “They’ll be able to see the garden, and we’re going to have flowers all over the place. We want to demonstrate what you can do. Even on asphalt, you can be very productive.”
In the past few weeks, Fireside has also been renovating and expanding a nearby building for a country store that will sell fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and jelly. The store will offer free samples of the products and will be open six days a week, Hitchcock said.
“Rather than not knowing what they’re buying, they can taste it,” he said.
The organization is using recycled wood from houses in Harrisburg’s Turn Back the Block program for construction of the country store, he said.
In addition, Fireside plans to start building a greenhouse at the site next week. The greenhouse should be completed within a month.
The projects are being helped along by volunteers and five men from Fireside’s job training program, which aids jobless or homeless adults, many referred by The Salvation Army.
The Hitchcocks started Fireside Ministries & Industries in 1992 by planting vegetable gardens in Augusta’s public housing – Underwood Homes, Gilbert Manor and Cherry Tree Crossing. Their goal was to build relationships and share Jesus Christ with at-risk families. The Hitchcocks and board members also helped start Heritage Academy in Augusta.
Cathy Enroughty, the market manager at the farmers market, hopes the community garden will revitalize the market.
“We are thrilled to have the community garden down there. We’ve been trying to get something going for quite some time,” Enroughty said. “We thought it would greatly benefit this area, and at the same time benefit the market here and bring new life. We’re trying to get the community aware that we are here and bring them back to the market.”