Driving 30-45 minutes to buy groceries is a burden that residents in Society Hill face every day because there isn’t a grocery store in the community. Residents only have access to unhealthy food at local convenience stores and the local Family Dollar. CareSouth and community volunteers are changing that by creating a community garden where residents can plant and grow fruits and vegetables for free.
CareSouth was one of 13 organizations that recently received a healthy eating and active living (HEAL) mini-grant from Wholespire to address food insecurity. The community garden is located on the historical site of St. David’s Academy, a property that CareSouth acquired for renovation and office use. They generously agreed to reserve part of the property for the community garden.
“The raised bed gardens have already been built for community members to plant and maintain their fall gardens,” said Christy Beasley, community health educator at CareSouth. “Retired farmer and community garden volunteer Dick Baird is leading the project by starting seeds on flatbeds, helping families plant their gardens, and providing expertise on maintenance.”
Beasley says four families have planted fall gardens, and they expect more families to take advantage of this free resource in the Spring. She says Society Hill is buzzing about the gardening opportunity and four people donated money to the project.
“I have met personally with members of the community at the local school. Teachers, parents, staff and community members are extremely interested in a community garden to learn about gardening, nutrition and working with others in the community,” says Beasley.
In addition to encouraging community members to plant and maintain their garden plots, project plans will include education about planting seeds, pests and weeds, seed saving, and harvesting and cooking the fruits of their labor. Ultimately, Beasley hopes this gardening experience will give community members the confidence to grow gardens in their backyards.