ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A community-driven effort is back up and running in the Marketview Heights neighborhood in Rochester. It aims to not only feed but also empower through education.

First established more than a decade ago through the Marketview Heights Collective Action Project, the Children’s Garden gives out fresh, healthy produce for free. Martin Pedraza has been with the program for 12 years and mostly cares for the garden…and everything in between.

“Trying to make it as easy as possible by trying to eliminate weeds. Everybody hates weeding … I know I do! You know, but it’s got to be done,” Pedraza said with an infectious laugh.

Also sprouting in the garden — young minds. The Field-to-Table program gives school kids a summer job while teaching them where and how their food is grown.

“A lot of times they just see it at Tops or Wegmans but over here they see it in the actual plant and we try to grow everything,” Pedraza said. “Like Stevia. They hear about it and they see it but when they see it as a plant and they look at it, say wow it’s a green plant — but when you taste it and you go, “Oh my God! Tastes like that old Bazooka bubblegum, nice and sweet!” You know it blows their minds!”

The effort is recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit, it is funded primarily through different kind of sustainable methods and can donations.

And all the food is grown completely free for any and all who need it.

“We pass it out to the residents in the neighborhood, we give it to the food banks, we give it to Lewis Street Helping Hands, we pass out different things to different people… if you’re walking by, one of the things I say is ‘Hey, do you like celery? Come over here! Pick! Pick what you want,” Pedraza said.

He said many organizers like to do this so people who experience the garden may feel inspired to one day come back and give a helping hand.