Community garden developed to help build bridge to inclusion
Dozens attend M.A.G.I.C.A.L. groundbreaking ceremony in Albemarle
A crowd of supporters attended the groundbreaking ceremony for The Monarch Ability Garden Integrating Community and Land (M.A.G.I.C.A.L.) project in Albemarle on Nov. 27. The project was designed to provide a place for people to gather and learn about sustainable gardening while reaping the benefits from expanded access to locally grown healthy foods. Earlier this year, Monarch received a $7,000 award from the United Way of Stanly County to support the community garden initiative.
During the ceremony, a number of key community partners that have participated in the garden’s progress were recognized including Jeff Rieves, cooperative extension agent from the N.C. Cooperative Extension – Stanly County Center, Christy Bogle, executive director of the United Way of Stanly County, several representatives from Stanly Community College, Stanly County Chamber of Commerce – and Albemarle Mayor “Whit” Whitley, were in attendance.
Monarch officials said the garden will help to foster relationships throughout Stanly County, establish more partnerships with local agencies and to build a bridge of inclusion between the people Monarch supports and the community. The local garden is one of three that Monarch is developing across the state. A groundbreaking was held for the community garden in New Bern in August. A M.A.G.I.C.A.L. garden is also being developed at Monarch’s Creative Arts and Community Center in Southern Pines.
“This garden will be a place of celebration, remembrance, and awareness,” explained Kerry Martin, site manager at Monarch’s Stanly Industrial Services on Greenwood Street in Albemarle, where the garden is located. “It will help to build a bridge between the community and the people we support. Once the garden is productive, the produce will be shared with the community. Our garden will grow fruits, vegetables, flowers and friendships.”
Monarch has also formed a board to help organize, plan and promote the garden. Those members include: Kerry Martin, Kim Thompson, a Monarch parent; Christy Bogle, Kathy Gardner, of Stanly Community College, Jeff Rieves, Leslee Wray, pastor of First Street United Methodist Church in Albemarle, Sandy Hedrick and Benny Benjamin, of Monarch; and Dr. Roger Thomas, director of Stanly Community Christian Ministries.
Monarch provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges from more than 50 North Carolina counties. Monarch is nationally accredited by The Council on Quality and Leadership and is CABHA certified. The agency is an affiliate chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States. To learn more about how Monarch is “Helping Dreams Take Flight” for people living in our communities, please call (800) 230-7525 or visit www.MonarchNC.org.