It was once a place of ruin in the center of downtown Braselton — but a proposal will literally bring new life to a late mayor’s decades-old barn.
Hall County Master Gardener Dave Rusk wants to transform the former barn on Henry Edward Braselton’s property on Ga. Hwy. 124, near the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 53, into a demonstration garden — complete with veggies, herbs, flowers and landscaping.
A few years ago, the rustic walls of the old mule barn began to collapse and largely remained untouched while H.E. Braselton considered what to do with the property. He died in December 2009.
But, Rusk saw an opportunity to start a master gardener program for kids in the spot.
“When I saw the barn dissolve behind the Braselton home — I hated to see it go,” he told the town council on Monday.
Rusk asked Janice Braselton — H.E. Braselton’s widow — about a proposed garden in the former barn, where the three-foot high foundation walls still remain.
She gave her blessing for the project, but asked that it be named “Nannie’s Children’s Garden,” in honor of the late Ottis Blanche McDonald Braselton — H.E. Braselton’s mother, according to Rusk.
The children’s garden will allow students enrolled in a new Junior Master Gardener program — which will meet at the adjacent Braselton Library — to learn about gardening, Rusk said.
Overall, he is planning to start two programs in Braselton — the children’s garden and a new Junior Master Gardeners program, both of which will work hand-in-hand.
The Junior Master Gardener program is a national program that was developed by Texas A&M and is sponsored by 4-H Clubs and master gardener programs with support from county extension services.
Students who complete the program — which targets kids ages eight through 14 — are then certified as Junior Master Gardeners. Along the way, they’ll learn about horticultural and get hands-on experience.
Rusk leads a similar program at Chestnut Mountain Elementary School in Hall County, which has a total of 400 students in the school district and a church enrolled in the Junior Master Gardener program.
For the Braselton program, classes will be held Saturday mornings — starting in March, with registration beginning in February. Classes will continue through the summer.
Those classes will incorporate instruction with hands-on activities at Nannie’s Children’s Garden, Rusk explained.
“I believe the garden will be an asset to the community,” he said. “It will fit right into the streetscaping (project) and the plans for upgrading Braselton.”
The garden will be located near the center of other major changes in downtown Braselton.
The town has started on its realignment of Ga. Hwy. 124 at the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 53, and will soon begin its streetscape project — which will install new sidewalks, streetlights and other amenities in the area.
Once started, the children’s garden will include a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruit, landscaping, benches and paths.
“We intend it more of a demonstration garden rather than a production garden,” Rusk said. “Although, if we have access to produce, we can give that to a local food bank.”
The Hall County Master Gardeners are sponsoring the programs, and are seeking additional volunteers and sponsors. Rusk anticipates the programs will be funded through grants, businesses, individuals and fundraisers — such as plant sales.
“I’m confident we’ll be able to raise the funds we’ll need for all of this through those different means,” he said, while asking the town council for its “moral support and cheerleading.”
Already, a core group of volunteers have tilled the soil in the former mule barn, whose walls have been removed.
“One way of another, it’s going to happen — how fast it happens depends on how quickly we get people participating and the funds,” Rusk said.
The programs will initially focus on children, but may be expanded to teenagers and adults, he explained.
For more information — including volunteering, classes and donations — contact program coordinator Dave Rusk at 678-316-5560 or firstname.lastname@example.org.