The 18th Wonder Improvement Association celebrated the opening of a new community garden on Friday at the Berks County Community Health Center in Oakbrook.
“Cultivating Community Garden in the Oakbrook Neighborhood” focuses on helping Oakbrook reach food security. In 2020, the Victory Garden Task Force successfully gave over 100 garden boxes to the Oakbrook Community.
After the success of the garden boxes, the natural progression of the initiative was to organize and plan a community garden to allow the Oakbrook Community to grow their own vegetables and herbs in a local and secure area.
“The goal is to empower people to grow their own food, improving food security for individuals and families in need” said Tanya Melendez, Neighborhood Alliance Chairperson.
“We want to be able to provide this community the opportunity for positive social interaction and recreation in a beautiful, non-threatening atmosphere where individuals of all ages and backgrounds may interact in a healthy pursuit.”
Led by Guadalupe Flores from the Berks Community Health Center and Tanya Melendez from the 18th Wonder Improvement Association, “Cultivating Community Garden in the Oakbrook Neighborhood” became a collaborative group of different organizations and partners that brought their unique assets to the team.
These organizations include the 18th Wonder Improvement Association, Berks Community Health Center, Berks Nature, the City of Reading, Reading Housing Authority, St. Constantine and Helen, and, United Way of Berks County. The outpouring of donations and volunteers from the community has also been significant for this project.
The community garden is located on the Reading Housing Authority’s property at 1040 Liggett Ave. in the fenced area next to the Berks Community Health Center. The location is ideal for the Oakbrook Neighborhood to have access to the community garden within walking distance.
Volunteers worked for several months to prepare the space and build raised garden beds. The goal of the project is to help people with limited mobility and to provide educational opportunities and resources, free of charge to the public.
In early June, the group held its first educational workshop installing rain barrels in the community garden site.