Paris Gardens - A Garden's Response

In 2009 an act of violence galvanized Bartlett Park neighborhood in St Petersburg like never before.  8-year old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton was killed by gunfire that ripped through her home in the middle of the night.  Gardeners at the Bartlett Park Community Garden decided to work with the family to plant a "Paris Garden" in the family's front yard in her memory.  The Paris Garden replaced the grass lawn with Florida native plants and edible plants.  Volunteers came from throughout the city to do the installation one Saturday and materials were donated by local nursery Twigs and Leaves.  Before the year was out six different families throughout the neighborhood had worked with us to install Paris Gardens in six more yards, bringing more than 250 volunteers together.  The gardens serve to help remember the cost to all of us of gun violence.  They also make more sustainable landscapes for our community and encourage residents to take advantage of the outdoor space we have around our homes both for enjoyment and food. The more people use and enjoy their front yards, the more eyes on the street are out as a deterent to crime.

Paris Gardens are one of the biggest actions our garden has taken to strengthen our community.  The program was active only for one year, it is a model we are looking at using again for expanding gardening and sustainability on the South side of St Petersburg.