Several months ago, the idea to build an urban farm in York city, became a plan. Kevin Schreiber, York City Director of Economic Development and member of the Eat Play Breathe York task force, met with Anne Clark, the Community Outreach Specialist of Lincoln Charter School, and Paulette Hawkins, the president of Salem Square Neighborhood Association. Their discussion to turn a vacant, one acre property owned by the Redevelopment Authority into a garden, has become a plan in motion! Community members, organizations, churches have flocked to work with the private, public and charter schools on this unique venture. The property will serve as a learning lab and working farm for the students of Lincoln Charter, Thackston Charter, New Hope Charter, Logos Academy and York City schools.
Today, I had the pleasure of helping with the garden clean up. There were so many volunteers, that within two hours, the property was cleared of brush and debris. As I worked to clean up one area of the lot, I struck up conversations with others. I chatted with Councilman Mike Helfrich and Pastor Jeff Smith about our personal experiences with gardening and farming. I spoke to Lorenzo Paul, a student from Logos Academy. He talked excitedly about how happy he is to have a garden for his school and that he can’t wait to eat the great food! His mother joined into the conversation, stating that her son has learned a lot about fruits and vegetables thanks to a taste-test and education program at Logos. Caleb, a student at Lincoln Charter, said that he is happy that the garden will provide a way for his classmates to be more physically active while growing healthy foods. I met elementary, middle and high school students, teachers, school staff, residents of the neighborhood, parishioners from various churches, York College students and many others. I am thrilled about this project because it will provide education and increased food access to the students and families of the west side of York city. But I am most excited about this project because, rather than working with my partners in city government and the health bureau to implement environmental change, I am working WITH my partners AND members of the community to make a lifestyle difference. I am in awe of the many, many, many people who are working TOGETHER to change our community…to make our community a healthier one! The garden is named Hope due to its location on Hope Street. I think that the name Hope really reflects that our York community has hope for change, hope for new partnerships and friendships and hope for a healthier future.