Community Gardens Provide Food and Hope

School children and community gardens across Lee and Collier counties are learning about and growing their own fresh and healthy food thanks in part to support by Publix Super Markets Charities!

In response to Covid-19, ECHO partnered with the Lee County Schools and the Naples Garden Club to provide 1,000 seedlings to families of students who receive free lunch. Each family received 2-3 seedlings and information about growing these vegetables.

Food donations
On average, ECHO provides more than one ton of fresh produce to food pantries per year. In response to the pandemic and increased food insecurity, ECHO intentionally increased production and more than doubled that last year. Last year, more than 4 tons was donated to help the needy throughout Southwest Florida, and hundreds of pounds of produce were provided to furloughed workers. Cultivate Abundance, which serves food insecure clients in Immokalee, shared with us that the food ECHO donated provided a weekly, nutritious meal for 400 people over nearly 3 months.

“We are so grateful for this produce and partnership. And we’re always grateful for you and your team.”

Community consultations
Several organizations reach out to ECHO each month. St. Vincent De Paul church has a thriving food pantry. They want to start a garden to supplement their pantry. ECHO’s Community Garden (CG) intern did an on-site consultation, supplying them with resources for design, budgets, and recommended vegetables. They will visit ECHO to see the community garden demonstration area. A retirement community recently contacted ECHO because they want to build raised bed gardens for their residents. The activities director visited ECHO, then the CG intern visited the retirement community; they have been discussing resources, design, and activities for the residents as they begin to integrate gardening into their programming.

School Visits
School visits to ECHO have resumed. In February, the 4th-grade science class from Discovery Day Academy visited ECHO. The CG intern, Lauren, was excited to “give them a 2-hour tour around the farm, focusing on how farmers use water-saving techniques to help feed their families. This specific subject area tied in with their current unit on Sustainability. It was a blast to let them touch, taste, and smell all around the farm!”

“Our students had such a fun and inspiring field trip to the ECHO Farm! This field work and hands on experience inspired these students to plant using our tower gardens back at school. Thank you for having us, ECHO!” Discovery Day Academy Teacher

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