By BCN Staff Reporter Mecca Hinnant – July 8, 2021 — South End Neighborhood Coalition President Ruby Jeffries welcomed guests to Crump Garden July 1 for what she called a celebration of their partnership with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). The garden has been in the community for over 20 years, beginning as a part of the Great American CleanUp, and it is now operated by the South End Neighborhood Group (SENG).
The neighborhood association’s mission is to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to the residents of South End at no cost. Long-term community outreach goals of SENG include increasing the availability of healthy foods, lowering food insecurity rates, reducing obesity rates, and helping to lower chronic conditions associated with poor dietary habits while improving the overall quality of life of their residents.
Last week, UAPB’s Agriculture Dept. joined in partnership with the South End Neighborhood Coalition, forming Crump Garden-UAPB Partnership Program.
The state’s flagship Historically Black College and University’s (HBCU) School of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Human Science conducts workshops, tours, meetings and farm visits to bring university research results to Arkansans. Students and staff from the dept. have been hands-on in the partnership, adding a sweet potato patch to the garden’s plethora of fruits and vegetables at the celebration. This is their first partnership in Pulaski County.
Professor Shaun Francis spoke briefly during the program, thanking UAPB North Little Rock site coordinator Dr. Minnie Hatchett for her pivotal role in the project’s completion.
“It’s really a pleasure to be here, I would rather be here than in the office any day and I really believe the state of the garden today speaks to our perseverance and Dr. Hatchett’s determination,” said Francis.
Dr. Hatchett said she has spent hours in the garden, constantly planting, harvesting, tilling rows, making phone calls, and even spending her own money for necessities. “I believe in the importance of gardening, and we believe that with access to fresh fruits and vegetables, you can live a longer, healthier life and I want to live a long life,” she said.
In Spring 2020 SENG launched Food Everyone Desires, a project funded by residents and volunteers in the community and has fed more than fifty families thus far. In the Fall of 2020 volunteers planted the garden’s first green patch with the help of staff, students and volunteers the garden is full and flourishing
The garden acquired their rooster and chickens through a donation and in Jan. 2021 launched a project that provides families with eggs daily. Seven dozen eggs were drawn for as door prizes and guests were served refreshments and drinks when the program ended. Guests were also allowed to pick what they pleased from the garden in honor of the special occasion.
Several neighborhood associations from the surrounding Little Rock area exist within the coalition, including the Whitmore Circle Neighborhood Association. Longtime member Jackie Randall was in attendance to help make sure refreshments were prepared and things ran smoothly.
“We are completely run by volunteers, so we’re excited to have some exposure. We try to focus on our neighborhood for volunteers, but everyone is welcome and appreciated,” said Randall.
Crump Garden is located at south Chester Street and West 33rd Street. For more information on the program, contact Hatchett, the North Little Rock site coordinator, at 501-374-3985.
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