Nuestras Raíces currently manages 11 community gardens and two youth gardens. Nuestras Raíces’ newest garden is “El Jardín Saludable,” located at our farm site, La Finca.
Significance of Our Community Gardens
Many of the vacant lots of Holyoke Nuestras Raíces began managing as gardens were once filled with garbage, needles, and the remains of demolished buildings. They presented health problems for residents, negatively impacted community pride, reduced investment, and created spaces for criminal activities. These sites are now flourishing community spaces creating fundamental changes to the city of Holyoke and are serving to empower community members.
The beauty of the gardens has heightened a sense of pride in belonging to Holyoke neighborhoods. The gardens better the overall environment of Holyoke. Holyoke property value increases. The gardens serve to increase air quality. They create safer communities. The gardens improve the environment of Holyoke. Neighbors and community members of all ages and ethnicities have come together to transform Holyoke’s abandoned urban lots into colorful and active spaces where both gardens and new relationships grow.
Intergenerational connections are strengthened when children, teenagers, adults, and elders are able to partake in a common project and learn from each other. The gardens create access to cheaper foods for low income people. People are learning about nutrition and have more control over and knowledge of their nutritional intake. Through eating fresh and healthy foods, nutritional levels have increased both within individual families and within the broader community. People are learning the significance of organic foods and also the practical methods of organic growing. On average families are producing over $1,000 dollars of organic produce per year. Some families sell their produce creating additional income.
Presently there are over 100 families participating, 1 homeless shelter, and 5 youth plots.