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New community garden taking root at Valley Park in Hurricane

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (March 31, 2016) — Hurricane residents will soon have a multi-purpose community garden at Valley Park thanks to the Putnam County Parks and Recreation Commission, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and project funder Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia.

"Improving the health of the communities we serve is fundamental to our mission and values," said Fred Earley, Highmark West Virginia president. "By funding this community garden, we are providing a means for community members to build better skills for healthy living. It will be a great asset to Hurricane for many years to come."

The garden, featuring 60 raised-bed plots, will provide a place for people to work together, build community bonds, provide educational opportunities and grow fresh produce for participants, schools, food banks and businesses.

"We are very excited to see this community garden in Hurricane," said West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick. "We salute Highmark West Virginia for stepping forward to fund this effort and make it a reality. A movement is underway in our country to get fresh, healthy, locally grown food onto the dinner table. Projects like this help to promote healthy living and educate the citizenry about agriculture at the local level, which leads to more people growing their own food."

Helmick also thanked the Putnam County Parks and Recreation Commission for partnering on the project.

"We look forward to providing this community garden as an additional amenity for the well-being of Putnam County residents," said Scott Williamson, Putnam County Parks and Recreation executive director. "Projects like this add to the quality of life for our residents and make Putnam County a great place to live, work and raise a family. I want to thank Highmark West Virginia and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture for their involvement in the community and for providing the necessary funding and resources to make this longtime dream a reality."

Raised bed plots are available for lease in four different sizes — 2-by-8 feet (for herbs only), 4-by-8 feet, 10-by-10 feet and 4-by-24 feet — with an annual fee of $10, $20, $30 and $40, respectively. Plots will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

To request an application, rules and regulations and an approved crop list for the community garden, contact Scott Williamson at 304-562-0518 or scott@putnamcountyparks.com. Applications may also be picked up at the Putnam County Parks and Recreation office.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia serves approximately 290,000 customers through the company's health care benefits business and also serves tens of thousands of additional members through the Blue Card program. Highmark West Virginia employs more than 750 people, with offices in Parkersburg, Charleston and Wheeling. Highmark West Virginia is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

For more information, contact:
Kristy Cramlet
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia
304-424-9888
kristy.cramlet@highmarkhealth.org