The McPherson Community Garden started as a way to make the area look nice, but has since grown into a source of fresh, healthy food for the community.
Imagine stepping outside and being greeted by thriving vegetable gardens, where you and your neighbors can gather free, organic ingredients for your next meal.
Fresh tomatoes, carrots, peppers, kale and anything else you can imagine. All free, organic and grown by you.
This lifestyle is a reality for many neighborhoods all over the country thanks to community gardens.
The McPherson Community Garden is one of two thriving community gardens in the Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood. It has over 60 raised beds run by members of the surrounding community, including Andy Cross, a self-proclaimed outdoorsman.
Originally, Cross and his neighbors wanted to start a community garden to beautify the area and planned on dedicating the area mostly to flowers. Once they began, however, Cross realized they could do more.
Accessing healthy food has become increasingly difficult in many communities throughout St. Louis and the United States as a whole. Most affordable food is generally unhealthy, such as fast food, and certain communities have less access to resources that aid in building wholesome diets.
Cross and his neighbors became increasingly aware of this issue as time progressed. This is common since many people are unaware of these issues unless they’ve dealt with them personally.
“I wasn’t so aware of it then as I am now,” Cross said.
There has also been a serious issue with numerous grocery stores closing down, as they cannot keep up with online competitors. Again, this directly impacts underserved communities.
According to Austin Huguelet of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, many chain stores lose interest in their locations that are in poorer neighborhoods, due to “lagging” sales.
While not a perfect solution, Cross said community gardens are a helpful start to offer aid for this issue. Not only do community gardens aid in food access where the number of grocery stores is dwindling, but it also brings people together, according to Cross.