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Teen teams with others to beautify park
Mill WEB
Girl Scout Natalie Wilson puts plants in the ground last week at Poole’s Mill Park. Wilson has spearheaded a project to add native species to the park. - photo by Jim Dean

Natalie Wilson carried ferns across the covered bridge at Poole’s Mill Park and dropped them in the ground on the other side.

“They weren’t being appreciated over there,” she said, “but they will be over here.”

As she patted the top soil around the roots, Wilson’s community garden had been planted.

The nearly-all native species garden at the northwest Forsyth park is situated next to the memorial garden maintained by the Cumming Garden Club, which also will take on upkeep of Wilson’s project.

She used rocks to help with water erosion issues and planted native species, requiring little water and attention to thrive.

Wilson, an eighth-grade student at North Forsyth Middle School, said she thought the garden would be “a good way to give back to the park” and keep on giving to the community, which met the goal of earning her Girl Scout Silver Award.

The award is the highest that a Cadette scout can receive.

Wilson, a scout for eight years, said her troop has done much at the park focusing on the environment, so the project was a good fit.

She got in touch with the Cumming Garden Club through the county parks department, finding two mentors to help design and implement her vision.

Sherry Brownlee said Wilson’s addition to the club’s gardens is “wonderful.”

Founded in 1949, the club has community gardens at several locations, including Poole’s Mill, the Cumming library and the Chestatee Community Building.

Several members joined Wilson to plant the new area at the park on a recent afternoon, in honor of Garden Week in Georgia.

“All the plants were volunteered either by Cumming Garden Club members or by Natalie herself,” Brownlee said. “Some of them were purchased, but most of them were divisions from the gardens of the club members.”

Wilson said she learned a lot about helping the community and the area’s native plant species by working with her mentors in the club.

She put in signs identifying the native plants and drew a map of the garden, which will be posted on the club’s Web site at www.cumminggardenclub.

Her mother, Tina, who is also her troop leader, said the project meets the criteria for the silver award, since the educational component of the garden will benefit the community for years to come.

“This is a perfect example of what the Girl Scout program is about. The girls are supposed to discover, connect and take action,” she said. “This is something that stays in the community and educates for hopefully a long time.”