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Philadelphia, PA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: The Viola Street Community Garden has served the East Parkside neighborhood for half a century. But the garden faced challenges related to soil quality water access -- gardeners had to haul in water barrels from a fire hydrant down the block. And because the City owned the garden property, its future was uncertain. After Neighborhood Gardens Trust assumed ownership, they wanted to improve the space. The organization built raised beds, brought in fresh soil and installed a new irrigation system. Volunteers also laid down ADA-accessible pathways to accommodate gardeners of all ages and abilities. New fencing, as well as a picnic table and shade umbrella, made the space welcoming. Since the upgrades, the Trust has added new parcels to the garden's footprint. Organizers say the garden helps ensure food access for West Philadelphia families, helping heal disparities resulting from systemic racism and disinvestment.

Stoneham, MA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: The Boys Girls Clubs of Stoneham and Wakefield built an intergenerational community garden where older adults can mentor children from the clubs. They installed four garden beds, a rain barrel and a compost bin. They also provided to tools, soil, seeds and other supplies for use in the garden. Today, the Boys Girls Clubs hosts intergenerational programming at the garden, which allows older adults to teach children the value of gardening as a healthy outdoor activity.

St. Louis, MO

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: STL Village partnered with volunteers from the community to restore the Lewis Place Community Garden, which had gone unplanted during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers cleared the site of overgrowth, refurbished garden beds, installed a storage shed and planted and watered vegetables, shrubs and trees. Neighborhood residents formed a garden committee charged with maintaining the site going forward. STL Village also created a resource guide for local older adults with a specific focus on services for low-income families.

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Gulfport, MS

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Public place improvements to withstand extreme weather events

Description: After Hurricane Katrina nearly leveled the Bayou View West neighborhood in 2005, the Federal Emergency Management Agency bought out the remaining residents and handed the property over to the city. Today, the 40-acre tract is known as Brickyard Bayou Park. This project created the city's first dog park at the site. Known as the Bark Park, it attracted more than 200 people and dogs on its opening day in 2017. the space acts as a buffer -- if the area floods again, homes won't be at risk. And once the park dries out, people and pups can return. Since the Bark Park's creation, the City of Gulfport has added a kayak launch, a disc golf course, a nature trail and an outdoor classroom to Brickyard Bayou Park.

Gulfport, MS

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space improvements to support recovery after extreme weather events

Description: As part of revitalization efforts following flooding from Hurricane Katrina, the City of Gulfport set out to give cyclists and pedestrians a place to shelter from the weather and sun. They installed a 20-square-foot safe-weather pavilion and benches along a new bike trail in Brickyard Bayou Park. The trail connects park visitors to amenities, including an outdoor classroom, dog park and community garden. Organizers report the pavilion project has since inspired other similar structures and trails in Gulfport.

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