Tiani Jennings and Patricia Taylor are two of the eight women who call themselves the "JOSANA Garden Girls," a group that has worked every day to bring two once vacant lots to life. "It reminds me of a carnival because it's so colorful and so bright, but I think it's really wonderful," said Taylor.
Jennings is amazed at the tranformation. "It's beautiful," she said. "I just show my family, my friends, people that are coming from out of town to visit, I always bring them here to see it."
The girls are part of Greentopia Green Visions, a work development program and federal remediation project in Rochester's JOSANA Neighborhood. The lots are leased from the city. It's a collaboration with Project C.O.A.C.H. at the Charles Settlement House. "As soon as we meshed, it was just like go, let's go, let's hit the ground running, make this happen," said Project C.O.A.C.H. Coordinator Kayla Jenkins.
The lots at the corner of Smith and Whitney were overrun with brush and litter before the launch of Green Visions in May. "Now it's something the neighborhood can be proud of, our neighbors across the street painted their house because they want to keep up with the garden," said Greentopia Festival Director of Special Events Morgan Barry.
But it's more that just beautification. The most tainted soil was planted with hyper-accumulating plants to soak up the toxins naturally. In addition to transforming the lots, the girls have also started a business cutting fresh flowers and selling them for profit.
The long range vision is to rehab the soil and plant vegetables, helping provide a self-generated, sustainable source of nutritious food for the community. "I really support that because I think it's a great approach to provide a healthy diet for people," said Taylor.
Jennings added, "It's amazing that we've made such a big impact and change in our neighborhood."
To learn more about Greentopia Green Visions, click here.
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