F.R.E.S.H. Community Garden
The F.R.E.S.H community teaching garden in East St Louis, now in its sixth year of operation, supports the East Side Health District’s mission of community health promotion. The garden serves as an experiential classroom where health department staff teach families and individuals about healthy foods, while providing a sustainable, healthy and readily available community food source.
Through the efforts of East Side Health District and numerous community partners, a half-acre plot of overgrown weeds was transformed to a fully functioning community garden with 28 raised beds, a small orchard, and a permanent shaded area for teaching. Some of the beds are rented by community members, some by churches and other organizations that donate food to the local food pantries.
In the 2016 growing season, 1,300 pounds of surplus produce was donated to Catholic Urban Programs, St. Vincent DePaul, Bread of Life Church, and St. Luke’s AME Church in East St. Louis. The garden also supports a farmers’ market. For the last three years the F.R.E.S.H. Market has accepted EBT/LINK vouchers for food. This past year F.R.E.S.H. stepped up as the only farmer’s market in the county to offer a double-up SNAP bucks program.