City paves over community garden in food desert | News

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City paves over community garden in food desert
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Food deserts in low income areas throughout Jacksonville are a big issue. A community garden in the Downtown area created to help combat the problem of little or no access to affordable nutritious foods has been paved over by the city. A dumpster just feet away from a children's playground is one concern in front of the J.S. Johnson community center and another is what use to take up a 32x32 space.

In 2013 Val Herrmann, staff members at the community center and neighborhood kids planted a vegetable garden. It was filled with goods such as peas, collard greens and sweet potatoes. The kids were taught how to maintain it and how start their own gardens.

"It was a heyday," said Herrmann. "They were like throwing them down on the ground and coming and getting more seeds."

That garden was planted using grant money from Keep Jacksonville Beautiful. The City of Jacksonville paved over the lush green vegetation and put in a new driveway and handicapped space in order to be in compliance with ADA standards.

"If they had to do that for them then I understand it," said Tacara Wimberly who lives across the street from the center. "But as far as the garden they should have moved it somewhere else."

According to the city the chosen entrance was their only option as they had to comply with handicap zoning. Still, Herrmann said the city made the wrong move.

"Everyone came together and everyone is all excited about doing something about food desserts and solving these problems and then when we have a garden the city comes and puts cement on it," said Herrmann.

Jacksonville's ADA coordinator, Beth Meyer says currently the city is working to get all of its centers in compliance with ADA standards. As for the community garden they do plan to plant another one in the area. And the city is working on getting the dumpster near the playground moved.


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