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Extension Master Gardeners turn barren lot into peaceful park

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Mountain Valley ParkPhoto courtesy of Silas BrownExtension Master Gardener volunteers turned a barren, vacant lot in downtown Hayesville into this peaceful oasis.

What was a narrow, barren lot beside the Clay County administrative office building in downtown Hayesville is now a peaceful park, thanks to recent efforts of Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers. Their donated work saved the county more than $10,000.

Since its grand opening in May, Mountain Valley Park has been “well used by county employees and the general public,” says county agriculture agent Silas Brown. And he expects use of the park to rise when the small trees planted there grow and provide more shade.

Brown said that in late 2010 the county commissioners offered the county Master Gardener Association $5,000 to create the small park.

“The only other option was to hire a private company to do the job, which would have cost more than $15,000,” Brown said.

Extension Master Gardeners engaged the public’s help in planning and designing the 20-by-90-foot park, and over the course of the next 15 months, 42 people contributed more than 1,100 hours clearing the lot of trees; establishing proper drainage; putting up a fence to screen an air conditioning compressor; and installing benches, plants and a pergola with a picnic table.

Mural at Mountain Valley Park

Photo courtesy of Silas Brown

High school students painted a mural on a wall adjacent to the park.

High school art students also pitched in, designing and painting a mural to go the wall of an adjacent building.

A local landscape architect appraised the value of the work at $18,000 – far less than the $4,500 the Master Gardeners spent to build it, Brown said.

In reporting the park’s opening, the local newspaper, Clay County Progress, called the park a “beautiful new area. … What a difference from the previous array of weeds and trash in this highly visible area.”

– D. Shore

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