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--- Updated December 12, 2008

"We must cultivate our garden," wrote the French philosopher and writer Voltaire, and 12 youths from the Erie Housing Authority did just that this summer.

HACE youths tend one of five gardens at the John E. Horan Garden Apartments.

Aged 8-14, the youths began their Community Gardens at Erie Heights and the John E. Horan Garden Apartments in spring under the guidance of Erie County Penn State Master Gardeners, Earth Force, the Erie County Health Department, and the Erie Housing Authority. The gardens were dedicated and introduced to HACE residents in mid-June.

There were five garden plots, measuring about 5 feet by 9 feet each, at Garden Apartments and three at Erie Heights. The HACE kids grew fruits and vegetables in all of them.

The goal for the young gardeners was to help the community realize how efficent it is to plant and maintain gardens and to learn to care for their environment. Once the gardens were matured and ready to be picked, the young residents enjoyed the fruits -- and vegetables -- of their labor.

Classes in cooking and canning were also offered to all the participants.