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Football, soccer players prepare community garden for winter

Football, soccer players prepare community garden for winter

By AmeriCorps and Community Resources Staff

Waynesville High School football and soccer players spent Saturday, Oct. 20, helping prepare the Waynesville Community Garden to close down for the winter season. 

“It was so great to see all of the volunteers from various groups working together to help clean out the garden,” said Courtney Long, director of community resource office and grant management. “I think for many of the students it was their first experience with working in a garden. They all did a great job of working together to help us clean up the garden in preparation for winterizing and I hope many of them are motivated to return to help out again in the spring.” 

The community garden is located in front of the Waynesville Sixth Grade Center and will close for the season on Nov. 13. 

“Helping athletes mature is one of the main goals of our program, and close behind is making the school and community proud of our football program,” said Head Football Coach Joe Haynes. “One of the most important ways to accomplish community support is through positive, active community relations. At the end of the day, nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. It is about relationships-people-family; our mindset is that our community equals our extended family.” 

The student athletes spent the day removing tires previously used as a border, weeding garden plots, filling plots with fresh soil and sifting compost piles. 

Assistant AmeriCorps Director John Box, said “As the head coach for the girls soccer program, I selected the project at the Community Garden for a few specific reasons. The Community Garden day of service embodied several aspects of teamwork and leadership – the skills that student athletes will need to possess to be successful on the field, and in life. As part of the emotional and educational growth of our student athletes, it is important for them to observe and understand the service aspect of leadership; therefore, the day of service at the garden provided a perfect opportunity for the WHS girls soccer team to gain a deeper understanding of community service, teamwork and leadership in a team-based environment. To sum it up, we had fun!”

The community garden was established in February of 2013. The intent was to build upon the foundation of the community to promote healthy lifestyles and education on gardening and to have youth and community members working to sustain the garden to provide fresh vegetables for their peers and community.

 Although a flood in August 2013 devastated the garden, volunteers and members from the AmeriCorps VISTA program have dedicated a lot of time and energy to bring it to its current state.  

The WCG also attracts local community members such as Rick Vernon. Vernon states that he utilizes the WCG because his own yard’s terrain isn’t viable for a garden due to all the rocks mixed with the soil. The plots, which are adopted to community members at no cost, provide the space he needs to plant the produce his family can enjoy.

The WCG is 144’ x 113’ in diameter and has 111 garden plots, which include raised garden beds as well as handicap accessible plots built as raised bed tables. These plots are available for adoption by community members. Patrons who adopt plots will have access to the shed, which houses all of the tools needed for gardening, seeds and assistance from experienced gardeners. The garden also has a rainwater collection irrigation system that utilizes solar power and composting bins.

The Waynesville Community Garden is an AmeriCorps VISTA program. The VISTA mission is to alleviate poverty in our community. Over the winter months they will be working to refocus the work of the garden to addressing the poverty mission in the community and redesigning the use and practices of the garden to focus on that mission. Applications for the no-fee garden plots will be available starting Jan. 15, 2019, and the garden will reopen for spring planting on March 2, 2019.

The Community Resource Office (CRO), under the direction of Courtney Long, is a grant-supported department of the Waynesville R-VI School District that manages district volunteers, AmeriCorps school tutors, Club TIGER Afterschool Program, Snack in a Pack Program, college and career readiness, service learning, and more. 


These programs are made possible by grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and Army Youth Programs in Your Neighborhood (AYPYN). For more information about the CRO Programs or how to get involved, contact (573) 842-2250 or






Football players preparing the garden for winter.


Soccer players helping remove the tires.



Participants in the garden cleanup. 




Photos by Nadine Albrecht