BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A group of 40 volunteers spent the weekend in Hamilton winterizing a community garden--cleaning its raised boxes, tending to its berry beds and trimming its trees and shrubs.
The garden is part of the Hamilton Urban Garden System. It donates all the food it grows to the Hamilton community.
“This community does not have access, or direct access, to fresh fruits and vegetables,” volunteer Michelle Merrett told FOX19 NOW.
The area around the HUGS garden is reportedly considered a food desert. The nearest grocery store is almost a mile away, leaving many in the area without readily available, nutritious food options.
The HUGS garden aims to solve that problem—and it’s making a dent.
Last summer, the garden reportedly produced 1,500 lbs. of fresh fruits and vegetables for the community.
The garden also encourages families to help grow and maintain the garden.
“In Hamilton, right around 23 percent is in poverty right now,” volunteer Levi Grimm said. “One-in-eight Americans are food insecure, so having HUGS here to help that need is essential.”
Grimm is a student at Ross High School. Together with several classmates, he lent a helping hand at the HUGS garden this weekend.
Grimm also volunteers with one of the groups that benefits directly by receiving the produce grown in the garden.
“We brought a lot of students here from the Hamilton Youth Philanthropy committee," Grimm added. "We are just cleaning out the garden and getting ready for the next growing season.”
As for that effort, it’s an MLK Day service project funded by a ServeOhio, an Ohio commission on service and volunteerism. .
The grants, of which there are ten statewide, fund projects ranging from $750-$2,000 in scope.
Each project awarded is designed to bring communities together through collaboration between businesses and nonprofits.
The HUGS garden project in Hamilton is the only one in the Cincinnati area.