Friends of Hemming Park, a nonprofit organization was contracted by the City of Jacksonville in 2014 to manage Jacksonville’s oldest public park. Since our inception, we implemented placemaking projects and brought regular amenities and programming to the park. Although great things have happened in Hemming Park, the park has also had some recent challenges.
It’s hard to imagine that in nine months’ time, a vacant lot in the Dutch Kills area of Queens was transformed into a lively community garden to enjoy nature, promote healthy living, and engage local youth. Soon after being licensed and registered as a GreenThumb community garden, Windmill Community Garden’s development was set into high-gear with the help of the 2016 Disney Parks Build Community program.
"Please send me kids that can share my garden with the community," prayed Dana Caley as she stood on the soil that had previously not been successful as a community garden. Quincy Teen REACH was the answer to her prayer--a partnership which resulted in at-risk kids becoming gardeners and Dana's harvest being more than vegetables.
Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP) was one of 15 communities awarded a $10,000 grant for the Grow Your Park program. The grant benefits low-income families through the donation of the locally grown fruits and vegetables. BCRP utilized their grant funds for significant improvements to Rockrose City Farm, once a defunct ball field and now a flourishing community gardening space.
Through a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation, Out-of-School Time grants were offered for park and recreation agencies to increase the number of healthy meals served, incorporate evidence-based nutrition education, and implement healthy eating and physical activity standards into their sites.
Parsons School District, in cooperation with the Parsons Recreation Commission, reached hundreds of children, and provided them with nutritious meals, health education, and physical fitness programming. Of the five 2012 Serving Kansas Communities grantees, Parsons saw the most significant increase (61.4%) in the number of healthy meals served from summer 2011 (5,550 meals) to summer 2012 (8,957 meals).
The Salina Parks and Recreation Department (SPRD) was one of five Kansas communities to receive a Serving Kansas Communities grant to help support their summer food service program. In fact, Salina Parks and Recreation was able to utilize the grant to increase the number of nutritious summer meals served to community youth by 5.7 percent—up from 4,470 meals in 2011 to 4,726 meals in 2012.
In the face of serious budget shortfalls in 2012, Wichita Parks and Recreation Department (WPRD) was forced to close three of their summer meal sites and saw an overall reduction in the number of meals served compared to summer 2011. However, WPRD was able to do a lot more with what they had left—accommodating larger capacities and building the quality of provided services at remaining sites.
Lafayette Park is considered the oldest park in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as the oldest urban park west of the Mississippi. The well-used, 30-acre park has walking paths, gardens, a lake, a boathouse, a landscaped grotto, a playground, and Victorian-era buildings. “It’s always full of kids, families, and people with their dogs,” says Alicia Stellhorn, leisure program manager for playtime recreation at the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry in St. Louis, Missouri.
Nestled in the northern reaches of Philadelphia, Pennypack Park creates a swath of green oasis in the midst of urban neighborhoods and development.
The National Trail Parks and Recreation District (NTPRD) maintains parks, trails, and outdoor recreational facilities in Clark County, Ohio, which includes Springfield. NTPRD seeks to promote health and wellness among the residents of Clark County by offering a variety of physical fitness and healthy living programs. The children’s gardening program was a natural outgrowth of NTPRD’s mission.
The JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden is located in Theodore Wirth Park in north Minneapolis. Since it was built in 1982, the garden has provided programs for children and teens, horticulture therapy for people with disabilities, and intergenerational programming with recent immigrants.
The community garden program is operated by McAllen’s Parks and Recreation Department. It is located at the IDEA Quest Academy, which is a K-12 charter school for low-income children. The school is adjacent to one of the city’s community centers.
Topeka’s youth gardening program is located at the Oakland Community Center. Oakland is a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood that in recent years has experienced urban blight, including high crime and gangs.
Shreveport’s children’s and youth gardening program is located at the Valencia Park Community Center, one of 15 community centers that are part of the city’s Public Assembly and Recreation Department (SPAR). Valencia Park is located in a predominantly African-American neighborhood called Stoner Hill.
The City of Rockford’s Park District has had a focus on gardening since at least 1999, when the City of Gardens program was initiated. The City of Gardens focuses on urban beautification, reforestation, and gardening.
The Richland County project started with eight raised beds at the Crane Creek Community Center. The Crane Creek community is comprised of five low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhoods. The garden is part of the center’s after-school program, and children in second through fifth grade, 55 in all, work in the garden during the school year.
Reno’s youth garden is located at the Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center. This center, which is located in a low-income neighborhood, hosts a Parks and Recreation program called Vacation Station.