If you’ve driven past the corner of 76th Street South and Division Avenue recently, you’ve seen it. It used to be a vacant lot, but it’s grown into much more: it’s giving life to the community. It’s our neighborhood garden. It’s YOUR neighborhood garden.
The East Lake Neighborhood Garden has been a dream of East Lake Initiative’s since our establishment in 2010. Due to the lack of nearby grocery stores, East Lake is considered a “food desert,” and we want to help meet the neighborhood’s need for affordable, nutritional food. More than that, the garden provides a space for neighbors to come together and work side by side.
Over the summer, community members and groups of volunteers gather once a week on Thursdays to tend the garden together, earning a share in the harvest. Twenty families enjoyed fresh produce this summer from the garden, the fruit of their labors.
East Lake Initiative broke ground on the garden in 2016, celebrating the first planting with Mayor William Bell and other city officials. In 2017, ELI added a second garden specifically for herbs, in partnership with the Taziki’s HOPE (Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment) Project. A team of six middle & high school girls interned with volunteer Deb White to care for and manage the herbs, which will be sold for use in Taziki’s Mediterranean restaurants.
In addition to the hard work of community members and the involvement of ELI and HOPE volunteers, other groups have joined in the effort to make the garden a fruitful endeavor. Christ Church United Methodist, Mountaintop Community Church, Freedom Financial Group, students from Banks Academy, the Lott-Carey Group, and the East Lake Neighborhood Association have all gotten their hands dirty in what has truly become the neighborhood’s garden.
More than just a plot of land, the garden is a part of ELI’s holistic vision for community development. Paige Jordan, Director of Development, says, “Our future hope would be that more neighbors would get involved in the work in the garden, as well as take an interest in the nutrition of their families.”
Although garden work has tapered off for the changing seasons, we do have fall crops, and volunteers are welcome to join us in the garden the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month. For more information on how to get involved, please contact us!