NEW HARTFORD, Iowa (AP) — After natural disasters left the northeast Iowa city of New Hartford with a number of vacant parcels, residents responded by creating nine public gardens and plan to build one more.
Some residents are calling New Hartford the "City of Gardens" because of all the new gardens as well as flowers along Main Street, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported Monday.
"We decided to plant gardens and parks and create green spaces that would be beautiful, relaxing places to enjoy," said Carol Chapman, who helped organize the effort. "More people volunteered when they saw what was happening."
Chapman said the gardens have given New Hartford an important boost of community pride following devastating flooding and a powerful tornado in 2008 that hit their city, Parkersburg and Dunkerton, killing nine people.
Organizers worked to build the gardens after more than 20 landowners in New Hartford accepted government buyouts, leaving vacant land that was perfect for growing flowers and making other improvements.
Business owners, foundations and individuals provided funding.
Couples have begun holding weddings at the Town Square Gazebo Garden, and the Heritage Garden offers a mix of antiques, history and plants.
A 10th garden is planned and could feature a moveable log cabin.
"We've bounded back," Chapman said. "I think there's a higher power at work here, making it happen and leading us in this direction."
Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com