Sarah Rodriguez, activities coordinator for the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department, shows the location where a community garden will be built near the children’s playground at Carl Levin park.

By Kim Steele
Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS — Residents soon will have a chance to plant, weed and harvest vegetables in a community garden at Carl Levin City Park.

“I think this is a great idea,” said councilman John Reider. “Probably what’s going to happen is we’ll run out of space and have to expand. If all goes well, we can divide the garden up and place it in different parks.”

Jerry Bark, director of parks and recreation, outlined plans for the community garden during a council workshop Tuesday but didn’t provide an expected opening date. The 3,000-square-foot vegetable patch will feature 15 plots for adults and three for children.

“Gardening is a hobby, and it’s something that is positive,” said councilman Spencer Smith. “There are a lot of people interested in it. Our job is to provide opportunities to our residents and that’s what the city is doing in many areas today.”

As part of an initiative to beautify the city’s parks, Bark said the entire garden project has 4,800 square feet of dedicated land. The city also plans to install a five-foot-wide trail around the community garden, a walkway through the plots for easy access and a butterfly garden.

“We’re placing this at Carl Levin City Park because it will be highly visible there,” said Bark. “We want people to see it and call us. We are excited about this project, and we feel it’s a win-win situation for our community. And if this really catches on, we can expand it to other parks.”

The planned garden will include elevated plots for senior citizens and disabled residents, a shed for gardeners’ tools, a compost pile and a fence made from the site’s cedar trees.

Local gardeners can apply for a one-year contract at a small cost for a plot, which is renewable after the first year. Local residents and the children’s gardening program at Harker Heights Library will maintain the butterfly garden.

Bark said the Bell County Master Gardeners will offer classes for interested gardeners, with the first one focusing on harvesting rainwater.