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CRA - News

Posted on: March 1, 2019

More Than Just a Garden – Barden Street’s New Community Garden Selected $13,000 Grant

Barden Street Community Garden Learning Center Picture with curved beds

On February 27, 2019, CRA commissioners approved a grant for up to $13,000 to complete the $246,000 Barden Street Community Garden Learning Center (BCG), requested by the I Will Mentorship Foundation.

More than just a garden, this urban initiative will infuse 21st Century agricultural skills and the beautification of a blighted neighborhood with art and culture. This multi-faceted effort combines community development, nutrition, education, entrepreneurship, local economic development, and community enjoyment. Once established, the BCG will be open to community groups for hands-on nutrition education, where residents from the surrounding area will be encouraged to eat healthy foods grown in the garden.

BCG will be located between Barden and Flint streets just south of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, which is directly south of the I Will Mentorship Foundation’s headquarters in the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center (SWFEC).

The requested $13,000 funding will be used to construct the garden’s signs, art wall and valor reflection area. Overall, the project will take 3 years to fully complete. It will have the capacity to provide over a thousand pounds of organic vegetables and 200 pounds of fish.

The reverse side of the garden signage wall will feature a living valor reflection area, recognizing veterans and first responders. BCG will offer programs to serve 60 family units in the City of Fort Myers and Lee County, with its primary participants being the communities within a 10-mile radius of the garden—areas where residents have little access to green space, fact high unemployment, and few extra-curricular activities available to them. Once BCG is completed, the primary activities of its fresh start project will include cooking, gardening, creative arts and fitness classes, and entrepreneurial projects for community sustainment.

The I Will Mentorship Foundation (IWMF) empower youth to make positive like choices though Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Math (STEAM) based learning and evidence based mentoring programs focused on increasing academic achievement, strengthening community, and providing exposure for opportunities.

For more information, contact the Fort Myers CRA at or I Will Mentorship Foundation at

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