April is National Gardening Month and one local charity is using that hobby to not only beautify what they consider an "at-risk" Phoenix neighborhood, but to build healthy families and a stronger community.
"I never thought I would see people fighting over carrots but I've seen it right here in the garden. They just can't get enough of the fresh produce," said Aaron Parrott of MentorKids USA.
The Hope Garden, as it's called, is full of vegetables that children who live in the south Phoenix neighborhood where it sits, planted themselves.
Mentorkids USA took over the once empty lot last year and developed it into the garden they say has grown more than just produce.
"We really wanted to bring that second tier of mentoring, working with parents, getting parents working together with their kids," Parrott added.
That's exactly why you'll find families like Adrian Fields and her children doing in the garden together.
"It gives my kids exposure to different things, like last planting season we did chard and we had never eaten chard," Fields said.
"They see the excitement of their kids and they just want to be a part of that and the kids show them what they're growing, tell them about the process and they take the food home and prepare it together," Parrott said about the families who spend time in the garden.
Fields said she started eating better and even planted a garden at home.
"It inspired me to garden at home. We're growing wax beans, green beans, carrots, radish, spaghetti squash," she added.
Parrott said the garden continues to grow new life in the community.
"The right environment, the right people, the safety, the people pouring into the children. The children are going to grow up and have a better future."
The Hope Neighborhood Garden project has two more phases that would include a shaded area and a playground. It is currently a finalist in a neighborhood beautification project that - with the most votes - would earn them a $30,000 award to finish the project.
Click ShineOnAZ.org to vote for the Hope Neighborhood Garden.
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