Community Garden Thrives and Changes Lives
The Hilltop Landings Community Garden, revitalized a year ago by UF/IFAS Pasco County Extension, continues to grow strong. Resident volunteers maintain the community garden under the guidance of Community Gardens Program Assistant, Eden Santiago-Gomez, and since the beginning of the garden, one volunteer and her family has shown great desire to garden and learn more. Dedicating endless hours to watering and weeding, resident Monica Toomer has become the most committed volunteer at the community garden. Always asking Santiago-Gomez horticulture questions to learn more, Mrs. Toomer has developed a skilled green thumb. Not only has Mrs. Toomer learned about growing your own vegetables, she uses the produce from the garden as soon as it’s ready to feed herself and her three kids; “Yes, I use the produce in the garden. Some days when I don’t have any food I go out to the garden and pick it,” said Mrs. Toomer. She also mentioned how she now prefers the produce fresh from the garden rather than from the grocery store as it taste better. Angel, Micha, and Elijah (Mrs. Toomers children) also help their mom garden by watering, weeding, pruning and particularly love to grow carrots and eat cilantro right of the plant. When asked if she consumes more vegetables since starting to garden she said, “Yes, more than ever!” Mrs. Toomer is a prime example of how community food gardens can provide a location for low-income individuals to grow/learn to grow their own food to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and decrease monthly grocery bills. For more information on UF/IFAS Pasco County Community Gardens, and how you can join one, visit http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/pasco/.