Hannibal plans community garden

HANNIBAL, Mo. (AP) — Community gardens may soon be springing up in the Mississippi River town of Hannibal.

Local parks and recreation director Andy Dorian is planning to convert a flood buyout property into a community garden in the northeast Missouri town, with planting to begin next spring. And with the city expected to soon acquire many other properties through flood buyouts, other similar gardens could follow, The Quincy Herald-Whig reports (http://bit.ly/GJmzCv).

"I think it's extremely important, especially since we have so many flood buyouts where we have to find uses for (them)," Dorian said. "This is a perfectly natural fit for one of those sites."

Land acquired through federal flood buyouts cannot be developed and can only be used as green space. Several properties have been bought out in Hannibal, Mark Twain's hometown, since the 1993 flood, and there has been renewed interest since the 2008 flood.

The city has received a $7,000 grant from General Mills to develop the first community garden. General Mills has a plant in Hannibal.

Dorian, local gardeners and other community members came up with the idea for the community garden. The initial focus will be vegetables, and Dorian hopes the garden will produce enough to provide to local food pantries and churches. He said it also would provide an opportunity for Scouting and other youth groups to get involved.

Sam Walker and Brenda West, both with the Master Gardener program, are helping in the community garden effort and say they're excited about its potential. Walker said it may be a good option for people interested in growing their own food, maybe for economic reasons, but who don't have the space on their own property.

"Anything that helps people to get out there and get their fingers in the dirt and learn how to garden is a great thing," Walker said.

Stephanie Thomeczek of the community group Families and Communities Together said the garden project is part of her organization's effort to make Hannibal a "more livable" place.

"I want to be able to help people have more access to food and learn how to harvest their own crops (and) feed themselves," she said.

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