Tampa inner-city garden helps families plant seeds of good habits

A Bay Area non-profit has turned an abandoned park into a place for families to grow their gardening skills. 

Nine-year-old Ashley Gomez Lopez enjoys the sweet smell of working in the garden. 

"These are mints. They’re smelling at the same time," she explained. "We cut them so that they can grow more and we can use them for like tea and other stuff." 

Lopez and her family are one of many families who come every Friday to the harvest hope community garden in north Tampa. 

"The main goal is for education and demonstration," stated Alex Baron, volunteer community wellness coordinator.  "We want to empower people to have a skill that we weren't taught in school." 

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The gardening project is part of the University Area CDC "Get Moving" program. 

Girl working in the University Area Community Garden

"The ‘Get Moving’ program involves sports, karate, anything to get moving. It's pretty much we want kids to be active outside and gardening is one of those activities that I specifically focus on," said Baron. 

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Anita De la Cruz brought her kids to learn firsthand what it's like to work in a garden.  

"I want them to learn about the plants. For them to grow up and know about this," she shared. 

Participants learn about weeding, planting, and harvesting. Plus, they get to take food home. 

Girl working in the University Area Community Garden.

"My first time, I helped the gardener plant seeds and a few weeks later I came back to get some food and I want to help the community garden too," Lopez explained. 

That's just what those who run the program hope for - Seeding more than just this land. 

"It's not going to feed the entire community. Like I said, that's not the point," Baron stated. "But to educate and demonstrate and just set an example so that people can make better decisions in the future when it comes to food and where it comes from." 

While planting good eating habits in the minds of families and youngsters as well. 

The community garden is open to the public every Friday.