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Garden club breathes life into courtyard
The courtyard of the old hospital on Samaritan Road before Cumming Garden Club members gave it a makeover. - photo by For the FCN

CUMMING — Cumming Garden Club members have helped create a new place for little ones to play and learn.

About 10 volunteers from the club, which has been an active part of civic life in Forsyth County for 54 years, spent several hours on a recent morning chopping, trimming, pruning and replanting in a courtyard area used by the Ninth District Opportunity Head Start facility.

Originally a part of the old hospital on Samaritan Road — which houses Heard Start, a federally-funded educational program for children in low-income households, and several other local nonprofits — the courtyard area had become overgrown and unusable.

“This used to be a hospital and so [the courtyard] was established when it was a hospital, but we really don’t have anyone who can maintain it on a regular basis,” said Cheryl Hoge, director of the Head Start facility.

“We would really love to have the kids come out, plant flowers, have a picnic at the picnic table, just really utilize this space. The garden club was gracious enough to come and fix it up for us.”

Heidi Stuckman said she and other volunteers from the group, which includes about 35 members, were happy to do so.

“We’re always looking for community projects that we can help to beautify and improve,” Stuckman said.

“Today what we’re doing is cleaning — trimming and cleaning up — and we’re going to watch it over the summer to identify what might be here and, of course, we have things we’re going to add.”

Club president Ruth Sutton said the project was a good example of what the Cumming Garden Club is all about.

“We’re part of the National Garden Club and that’s just one of the objectives -- to try to educate the community about gardening procedures,” she said. “So we thought this would be a great way to do that. If anybody has seen it before and then sees it after, they’ll know that the garden club does more than just sip tea.”

Stuckman added that the club is always looking for new members.

Anyone interested in joining can attend any of the group’s meetings, which are held at 10 a.m. the second Tuesday of every month at Cumming Baptist Church.

As for the children in the Head Start program, Hoge said she believes they’ll enjoy being able to use the area.

“We don’t have a gym or anything, so on rainy days they don’t get to go outside, and on beautiful days, we have a bit of a playground, but with this we can also turn this space into an outdoor classroom.

“We’re a nonprofit organization, Head Start, so we look to the community for their support, help, donations, any of that, so we’re so grateful.”