The Community Garden Program Initiative relates to the Muncie Action Plan Initiative 1: Linking Learning, Health and Prosperity, specifically to Action 10-Create a healthy community. While a citywide plan has yet to be initiated, individual neighborhoods throughout Muncie are preparing community gardens through their own neighborhood action plans in order to increase access to healthy food and improve overall community health.
This initiative also relates to the MAP Initiative 4: Creating Attractive and Desirable Places, Action 3: Continue and expand blight removal programs. Utilizing vacant or blighted properties as community gardens will beautify the neighborhood by removing blight, and make the area safer by encouraging more people to be out and about.
The Boys and Girls Club, located within the Industry neighborhood, currently has its own community garden, but the neighborhood association would benefit from running one in order to reach more residents within Industry.
Why this is important
The Community Garden Program Initiative evolved out of the January 2015 neighborhood association meeting, because residents want more access to better food options. This initiative was given a medium priority by neighborhood residents during the March 2015 meeting. While it takes hard work and dedication, creating community gardens is a relatively simple way to increase access to healthy, fresh, affordable food.
The Industry neighborhood is considered a food desert by the US Department of Agriculture, meaning residents have little access to fresh, healthy, affordable food options. Implementing a community garden program in the neighborhood will increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, provide educational opportunities for residents of all ages, promote local economic activities within the neighborhood, and contribute to an improved quality of life within Industry.
What this will involve
The first step in creating a community gardening program is identifying local partners with the skills and abilities to grow food, as well as areas in the neighborhood well suited to gardening. The next step will be working with the city so that the neighborhood association can gain ownership of vacant lots. Local churches and other organizations are good partners to have as well, because they may have property they would be willing to donate to the association for community gardens.
The Urban Gardening Initiative of Muncie currently runs 11 community gardens throughout the city, and will be a valuable partner who can assist the neighborhood association with implementing garden projects. The Mayor’s Office and the Department of Community Development will be invaluable partners as well, as Mayor Tyler supports projects that promote the production, distribution and consumption of local, fresh, and affordable foods.
Contact information for funding and assistance sources
Department of Community Development
300 N. High St. City Hall
Muncie, IN 47305-1639
Phone: (765) 747-4825
Fax: (765) 747-4898
Contact: Ms. Terry Whitt Bailey, Director
Office of the Mayor
300 N. High St., City Hall
Muncie, IN 47305
Phone: (765) 747-4845
The best places within the Industry neighborhood to implement gardening activities will be currently vacant lots with no existing structures. These properties are highlighted in green on the Community Garden suitability map (Figure 2 below). Other properties to consider are church-owned land and property within Heekin Park, which are highlighted in yellow on the suitability map. It may be easier in the beginning to ask churches to donate a plot of land while working with the city to gain ownership of any vacant property.
Case study: HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee
HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee is an initiative within the ReFresh Milwaukee Sustainability Plan, which is the citywide plan for increasing environmentally sustainable projects and activities throughout the city of Milwaukee. HOME GR/OWN is a project specifically of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The project’s objectives include transforming neighborhoods by concentrating city and partner resources, catalyzing new, healthy food access and greenspace development; make it easier to access local foods and repurpose city-owned vacant lots by working within city government to streamline process, permitting and ordinances, and to make it easier to grow and distribute healthy food, start new food-based businesses, and improve vacant lots; and work within Milwaukee’s community food system to link local growers to local markets, increase urban food infrastructure (water, access, compost), and support new urban farms, healthy food retailers, and wholesalers.
City agencies involved include: Department of City Development (real estate, planning and policy); Department of Public Works (forestry, sewer access, composting, access to equipment); Milwaukee Health Department (Healthy Corner Store Initiative, food safety and licensing); and Department of Neighborhood Services (permitting, maintenance, inspections).