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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If you've ever wanted to grow your own food but didn't know how to harvest a successful crop, the Surprise Community Garden for All Ages is a great place to start.

Recently, the Surprise City Council approved a grant to support the garden's partnership with Benevilla, a local nonprofit that oversees and supports the garden. They're now expanding the young community garden with 20 new 4x8-raised garden beds that can grow enough produce to feed a family of four.

The garden was created a year ago behind the nonprofit's facility on 16752 N. Greasewood St. It already holds 14 garden beds where gardeners of all ages, from kids to senior citizens, have been harvesting any kind of vegetable.

Trevor O'Neill is one of them.

The Surprise resident has five children, ages 1 to 9, and takes them with him to teach them how to grow their own food.

"It's always fun to bring them down to the garden and tell them, 'We got the new sprouts coming up, that's exciting!'" said O'Neill. "There's nothing to compare it to. It's a blast to see the light on their faces when they see something they were able to create themselves."

O'Neill has had a box at the garden for about four months and already has had his first harvest. He and his kids have planted seeds already for the next crop. He wants to teach them the art of creating something with their own hands.

"They put those seeds in the ground, maybe not always in the right places, but they can take ownership in what they grow," he added.

If you don't have the skills to cultivate your own food, the garden has volunteers to teach you helpful tips.

There's also the opportunity to pay the nominal fee which covers the space and utilities to keep the area, and then donate the space to anyone in need. There's also the option to share the food you grow with other families.

To learn more about the Surprise community garden, contact Benevilla at (623) 584-4999. You can also visit the garden's Facebook page.

Martha Maurer, News Editor

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