Community garden named after Sam Wright
by Emily McLain
SYALCAUGA – Below strands of twinkling lights, about 175 citizens gathered for a meal and a special dedication at the community garden Wednesday night.

“Dinner Under the Stars,” the first event of its kind at the garden behind SAFE Family Services Center, opened with the renaming of the garden to honor a late mayor who was instrumental in its founding five years ago.

“This garden is the result of many people who never got a pat on the back; didn’t expect a pat on the back. They just did the work, and one of those individuals was Sam High Wright,” said SAFE Director Margaret Morton of the two-term mayor who died last August. “You could come here on a Saturday afternoon or a Wednesday night, and you would see Sam Wright out in that garden. You would also see this woman right here, (his widow Connie Wright), by his side. Not only talking the talk, but walking the walk, and so the Sylacauga Grows Committee made the decision that, in honor and memory of what Sam did to create this wonderful opportunity for us to serve, we wanted to dedicate this garden to him.”

Placed at the front of the four-acre patch is now a large piece of Sylacauga’s white marble and a plaque bearing the garden’s new name, “Sylacauga Grows Sam H. Wright Community Garden.”

“I think Mother Teresa says it best when she said, ‘I am a pencil in the hand of the Lord, writing love letters to the world,’” Morton said. “This garden is a part of those love letters. It is a beautiful testimony, not just to Sam Wright, but to this community.”

Connie Wright was presented a shovel and framed picture of the garden and said her husband would not have wanted recognition for the work he did.

“The only time Sam wanted his name anywhere was when he was running for mayor, and then he couldn’t get it around enough,” she joked. “He would not have wanted his name here, but he did love the community, and that’s what I want to say tonight. To all of you, this is your community; this is your garden. I appreciate your being here, and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for all you’ve done to recognize Sam. He appreciates it. He would not want it, as most of you know. He’s the last one that would want to be recognized, but this is special.”

Sylacauga Grows also thanked other people who have contributed the success of the garden, which now includes an array of vegetables, an 88-tree fruit orchard, a greenhouse, bee hives, community outreach programs and more. Each person mentioned, starting with lead gardener Bill Roberts, was given a trowel as token of the work done thus far, and the work they will do in the future.

“It has been, and still is, such a privilege, to come out here and work with all the people that have made this garden a success,” Roberts said. “And when I say success, I’m not really talking about the seeds we planted or the harvest. I am talking about those, but it’s not just the vegetables – we have harvested people and lives.

“We have a ball out here,” he continued. “This is the greatest place in the world to be, and the people we’re going to give these (trowels) to tonight are just a small portion. There are hundreds of people who have made this garden what it is today.”

Recognized were the following people and organizations: St. Jude Catholic Church, First United Methodist Church, ChristPoint Community Church, Harry Heigl, Jim Heigl, Jim Jones, James Kelley, Keith Tyler, Penny Moore, Housing Authority Director Leon Cleveland, Claude Williams, Home Depot, Taylor Logan, Billy and Mona Carden, Lauren Eszes and Isaac Jennings.

For more information on the garden, contact SAFE at 256-245-4343.

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© 2013