When Dorothy Scott Wilson was growing up in northwest Lake Wales, folks would buy their fruits and vegetables at a small business corridor that included Wade’s Grocery Store. As corporate chain supermarkets came in during the 1950s and 1960s, stores like Wade’s closed, leaving what Wilson calls a “food desert.”
That desert, however, is now sprouting new life through the 5-month-old Grove Community Garden, where fruits and vegetables are being planted and a new source of community is being harvested.
In April, a groundbreaking was held for the Grove Community Garden at the James P. Austin Community Center. The new garden is named in recognition of the surrounding Grove Manor neighborhood, a Lake Wales Public Housing Authority community, and will primarily serve residents living in the northwest section of the city.
Cheryl Baksh, Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency coordinator, says similar community gardens nationwide have become gathering spots for neighbors to meet and establish friendships. There, community members can chat about their gardening experiences, trade gardening tips, show their children where their food comes from, and teach them about maintaining healthy and diverse diets.
Baksh, who’s been on the CRA since 2019, says she hopes the Grove Community Garden will be used to foster healthy activities in the area, particularly for the many senior residents living there. She said a partnership with the B Street Community Service Center in that area is being formed so items grown in the community garden can be dispersed into area homes.
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