Unity Gardens connects our community to healthy food, nature, & each other through urban ecosystems conducive to public and personal health. We support community volunteers in growing 40 + free open vegetable gardens through the 7 acre LaSalle Square Unity Garden. Unity Gardens reconnects neighbors, youth & vulnerable populations to fresh produce, environmental sustainability & opportunities to grow social capital. Programs include free Garden Camp, classes, volunteer groups, garden guides, etc. Unity Gardens serves all people, offering free access to fresh produce & growing environments where exercise is naturally encouraged. By offering environmental contexts where diverse people naturally gather, those with opportunities meet with those needing opportunities! Unity Gardens erases the line between those who give and those who receive. We all look similar in the garden. Unity Gardens creates a dignified food experience, where regardless of socio-economic status or other disadvantages, we’re all part of growing something positive. Everyone in the garden is part of the success; sharing a recipe, weeding, showing someone new where the green peppers are, or playing with the chickens. There is a way for everyone to help! This free food model is 8 years old & has helped thousands in South Bend access fresh produce, creating food hubs throughout the city. Unity Gardens attract neighbors, children, and others who might otherwise never meet, literally growing community!
To grow, it's necessary to expand our ability to interact with the community year-round. We're planning a Community Learning Center where we can make fresh produce available through an indoor outdoor market & roadside stand area (creating a local food hub), more efficiently host our free classes, create indoor volunteer and event space (sheltering our campers and offering opportunities for groups regardless of the weather), all while increasing organizational sustainability and making the first replicable free food model! (see attached designs).
With the help of Borkholder’s Builders, Herrman and Goetz, and The Troyer Group, the current site plan & design are complete. It includes office space, classroom space that doubles as indoor volunteer space, and a market area. The 5000-sq. foot Community Center will be built at the western tip of the 7 acre LaSalle Square Unity Garden land, where Ardmore and Prast Blvd meet. (just south east of the airport). The intentional design of the market area in the front entrance to the building with a retractable garage door opening onto a covered porch, allows Unity Gardens to host a market all year, highlighting locally grown fresh produce, in addition to our award-winning Honey from the Hood, and related products. The open classroom space will serve as shelter for our campers, indoor volunteer space, and allow us to create value added product to help support associated fixed costs. Please help us create a home for Unity Gardens!
It is exciting to have the first "free food model" sprouting in our community! In order to assure the future and growth of Unity Gardens, endowment funds are earmarked to be reinvested. The primary intent of our endowment fund is to grow Unity Gardens' economic stability for future generations. Within the first few years, a percentage of the proceeds may initially be allocated to cover fixed costs associated with the new Community Learning Center until the market area expands and sales increase.