Community Action announced today that it has received a $2,000 grant from the Stateline Community Foundation for its Community Sharing Garden located in the 1300 blocks of Porter and Nelson Avenues in Beloit’s east-side Merrill Neighborhood. The garden was created as part of a larger neighborhood revitalization project Community Action has been leading in a 5 block area around the corner of Porter and Keeler Avenues, historically one of the more challenged neighborhoods in Beloit.

The garden encompasses more than five city-sized vacant lots where vegetables and landscaping plants are grown by volunteers from the local and broader communities and shared with people living in the area. The goals of the garden are to convert vacant land into places of pride, beauty and bounty, increase the availability of affordable locally grown food, and model the values of collaboration and sharing.

“The generous gift from the Stateline Community Foundation will allow us to engage a local artist to work with people in the area to create a number of colorful murals that will help increase the visual beauty of the gardens,” says Community Action’s program director John Ramstad.

In 2007, Community Action, with support from the City of Beloit, purchased an initial group of 14 vacant rental properties in the project’s target area. Many of those houses have been completely remodeled and sold to low- to-moderate income new homeowners. Community Action has also partnered with local residents, churches, city staff, and the Beloit Police Department to work on issues of safety and quality of life in the area. Community Action helped launched the Porter Area Watch Group that meets the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month at 6pm at New Life Ministries, 1400 Harvey Street in Beloit. Members of the local community are welcome to attend.

For more information about Community Sharing Garden or Community Action’s work in the Merrill Neighborhood, please call John Ramstad at (608) 313-1335.