Helena-West Helena— Susan Alman’s last day on the job as manager of the Helena Community Garden (HCG) is rapidly approaching. As a service member of a project known as Arkansas Garden Corps, Alman’s term of service was for one year. Once completed, on August 26, she will have given over 1,700 hours to cultivating the garden and educating the community about the importance of eating nutritious farm-fresh to table foods.

HCG is a program of the Delta Cultural Center. While under the management and green thumb of Alman, most would agree that it was a very productive year for the garden. “It has been a good year,” Alman says. “I will really miss caring for the crops and beautifying this little corner of town [Walnut at Missouri Streets]. Just as much, I’ll also miss being surrounded by the rich unique culture that permeates downtown Helena.”

According to Alman, her primary goals while managing the garden were important priorities for her. “I had three objectives. First, I wanted to increase access to fresh locally grown produce for all people. Secondly, it was essential that the garden serve as an outdoor classroom for garden-based nutrition and horticulture education. And, finally, I saw the necessity for this work to continue beyond my service period. To me, that meant there was the responsibility to recruit and retain a volunteer coalition to support the sustainability of the garden.”

Speaking of sustainability, when asked about this, Dr. Kyle Miller, director of the Delta Cultural Center first takes the opportunity to commend Alman’s work. “Susan has done a really amazing job in the short time that she’s been here. The hope now is to secure funding to continue the HCG program so that we don’t lose the great progress that she’s made.”

Through her work at the community garden, Alman provided produce to senior citizens on meager incomes who were really in need of this assistance. Throughout the year, she also held youth education groups in the garden. Among other things, the kids learned about growing egg plants, rice and sunflower seeds which they also harvested to eat. They were introduced to produce many of them had never heard of before.

Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, farming is in Alman’s DNA. Her grandfather was a farmer in Marvell, Arkansas. Alman’s immediate plans are to move to Memphis where her partner lives. The two of them are excitedly making plans for a fall 2019 wedding. But, she says, “I’ll continue to work in the horticulture, school gardening, and/or community gardening sector of Memphis.”