City of Lawrence Helps Residents Plant Seeds


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Many neighborhoods in Lawrence, Kansas, where Latinos make up the largest minority group, haven’t had access to a full-service grocery store in years.  In northern Lawrence the situation has gotten so bad that the area is declared a USDA food desert, a low-income neighborhood where the closest grocery store is more than 2 miles away.

While the community and business leaders work on getting a grocery store into the neighborhood, city officials decided that if they couldn’t get fresh produce to come to Lawrence, they would start growing their own.

The Common Ground Program, created by the City of Lawrence in 2012, is a community gardening and urban agriculture program that seeks to transform vacant or under-utilized city properties into vibrant sites of healthy food production for the community.

In addition to increasing the availability of fresh, healthy produce, these gardens have impacts far beyond their boundaries. In exchange for receiving a free license for use of city property, each grower/applicant creates a Community Benefit Plan for their project. These have resulted in 550 lbs of produce donated to local food pantries, field trips for student groups, and community gardening class topics from compost to tree pruning.

So far, 7 community gardens have been planted around the city, many in food desert areas like northern Lawrence.

Read more about Lawrence’s struggle and hopeful future here. 

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