When Frank Scroggins helped his family grow cotton, corn and watermelon on a few acres of farmland during the tail end of the Great Depression in Shreveport, Louisiana, he never thought he’d find himself a small-space grower in concrete-covered Inglewood.
For nearly four decades, Scroggins, 77, has maximized his small, half-acre yard to grow heaps of tomatoes, peas, mustard, chard, cucumbers, turnips and his favorite three varieties of collard greens. This spring, he helped launch the Queen Park Learning Garden across the street from his home.
“I prayed to God for something like this to happen,” said Scroggins. “It’s hard to get kids interested, but we want to get more young people involved.” Scroggins and his Queen Street neighbors considered the idea of a community garden for years, although the nearby park was a challenge because of its rundown facilities.
In March, they got their chance: Queen Park received a makeover with new playground equipment from KaBOOM!, a Disney-sponsored nonprofit that creates playgrounds in low-income residential areas. “Our model is to partner with people who want it,” said D’Artagnan Scorza, director of the Social Justice Learning Institute, which provides gardening resources to Inglewood residents. “I don’t want us to run gardens. I want people to run these gardens for themselves.”
A core group of 15 Inglewood residents manages the Queen Park Learning Garden through weekly committee meetings, events and maintenance schedules. An Earth Day gathering drew nearly 300 guests, 20 of whom signed up for committee involvement. Despite a rich, agricultural past, Inglewood is one of many communities identified as a food desert: an area which lacks adequate access to fresh produce and instead, offers an abundance of liquor stores and fast food restaurants.
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