Baxter’s Raised Bed gardening program serves a neighborhood where 33.5% of households fall below the poverty line, 17.5% of residents are unemployed and 99% of school-aged children qualify for the free or reduced lunch program at their school. In 2009, the Health Department’s food security assessment declared that the Baxter neighborhood was a food desert.
Baxter Community Center works to provide Baxter neighborhood gardeners with plants, seeds and supplies they need to grow healthy foods for their families. Baxter provides food plants, raised beds, a traditional gardening library with books on growing, cooking and canning as well as a seed library. Now they are adding a tool library–and they are asking for help. Many of Baxter’s neighbors don’t have access to shovels, rakes, hand trowels and other tools needed to maintain their gardens. In addition, having tillers and power tools would allow neighbors and other community organizations build more garden spaces.
Baxter hopes to launch the tool library in March 2014. Tools will be available for anyone in the community to use, but especially the families in its Raised Bed Program and community partners that are starting their own urban agriculture programs that benefit low income families. Any extra funding will be kept as a replacement budget for lost and broken tools.
Its Greenhouse and Raised Bed programs increase food security by providing fresh produce and programming to enhance nutrition, environmental awareness, and community spirit. The addition of a tool library would not only allow neighbors to have more productive gardens, but would help build even stronger ties in our community by promoting shared resources. Since beginning the program, Baxter has been overwhelmed with the community response. People in the neighborhood are excited to be doing something collectively that adds beauty, builds relationships, and addresses important health issues our families face.