Kansas City’s Freeway Park Community Garden gets a makeover

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Theodore “Priest” Hughes with Kansas City Community Gardens saws a branch off before cutting the tree down in an effort to help clear the fence line. A small army of volunteers helped give Freeway Park Community Garden in Kansas City’s historic Northeast a makeover for its 20th anniversary. The garden, near E. 14th Street and Indiana Avenue, is managed by Kansas City Community Gardens, which rents plots to neighborhood gardeners.

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Freeway Park Community Garden in the Historic Northeast of Kansas City got a makeover on Friday.

The garden is located on five acres of land owned by the Kansas City Parks department and is managed by Kansas City Community Gardens KCCG.

To celebrate 20 years of providing fresh food to folks in the neighborhood, KCCG teamed up with Love, Tito’s Block to Block to give the space a major facelift.

KCCG is a local organization aimed at helping low income families access food and start their own gardens. It supports a network of 320 gardens, manages nine rent-a-plot gardens and offers a membership program for those who want to start gardening. You can learn more about how to get involved here.

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Steve Brady, left, and Kevin Stanbach level out the soil and compost mix in a new raised bed. They came out to volunteer with a group employed or associated with Henderson Engineers. A small army of volunteers helped give Freeway Park Community Garden in Kansas City’s historic Northeast a makeover for its 20th anniversary. The garden, near E. 14th Street and Indiana Avenue, is managed by Kansas City Community Gardens, which rents plots to neighborhood gardeners. Jill Toyoshiba [email protected]

What’s happening at the garden?

Before it was a bustling park and garden, the Freeway Park green space was actually a construction support site nestled between 14th St. and Indiana Ave.

“Over the years some pieces of that site’s historic past [like] chunks of asphalt and concrete and things have kind of heaved up out of the garden plots.”

Volunteers removed large pieces of debris from the garden.

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Volunteer Davis Harrison, left, and Rob Reiman with Kansas City Community Gardens, right, help steady a tree that Theodore “Priest” Hughes cut down. A small army of volunteers helped give Freeway Park Community Garden in Kansas City’s historic Northeast a makeover for its 20th anniversary. The garden, near E. 14th Street and Indiana Avenue, is managed by Kansas City Community Gardens, which rents plots to neighborhood gardeners. Jill Toyoshiba [email protected]

The makeover also includes 24 new raised beds, installing a new storage container, and demolishing 26 aging garden beds. The renovations are largely funded by a $30,000 contribution from the Love, Tito’s Block to Block garden and farm program.

KCCG Development Director Jennifer Meyer said this project is especially important because it will help rejuvenate a garden that has over 120 garden plots and serves over 100 families.

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McKayla Lynch with NSPJ Architects drags a branch to the wood chipper as she and other volunteers work to clear the fence line. A small army of volunteers helped give Freeway Park Community Garden in Kansas City’s historic Northeast a makeover for its 20th anniversary. The garden, near E. 14th Street and Indiana Avenue, is managed by Kansas City Community Gardens, which rents plots to neighborhood gardeners. Jill Toyoshiba [email protected]

Who does the Freeway Park garden serve?

The Freeway Park Community Garden is an especially diverse garden community that currently serves a larger Liberian immigrant community, Meyers said.

“This is our one large garden up in the Northeast,” Meyer said. “We will see gardeners carrying giant flats of tomatoes, you know, balanced on their heads into the garden, because they’re coming on the bus line or they’re walking from where they live.”

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Dallas Stephens, owner of Arb Tech Kansas City, brought his wood chipper to help get rid of branches cleared along the fence line by other volunteers. A small army of volunteers helped give Freeway Park Community Garden in Kansas City’s historic Northeast a makeover for its 20th anniversary. The garden, near E. 14th Street and Indiana Avenue, is managed by Kansas City Community Gardens, which rents plots to neighborhood gardeners. Jill Toyoshiba [email protected]

Maintaining large garden spaces like the Freeway Park Community Garden helps KCCG carry out its mission of making gardening accessible and affordable to low and moderate income residents in Kansas City.

“The rent-a-plot gardens are our way of being in urban neighborhoods on a really large scale,” Meyer said. “It’s all just about making it accessible, where people live, where they work, where they’re already at through the course of the day so that gardening can be an easy choice.”

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Phil Meyer, a garden manager with Kansas City Community Gardens, fills a new raised bed with a topsoil and compost mix as volunteers wait to level it. A small army of volunteers helped give Freeway Park Community Garden in Kansas City’s historic Northeast a makeover for its 20th anniversary. The garden, near E. 14th Street and Indiana Avenue, is managed by Kansas City Community Gardens, which rents plots to neighborhood gardeners. Jill Toyoshiba [email protected]

How to get involved

There are a lot of ways to get involved with KCCG across the city.

If you are interested in volunteering at a garden this spring, visit here or email [email protected] to learn about more upcoming opportunities. You can also donate directly to KCCG by visiting here.

What if I just want to garden?

Kansas City community members can become KCCG members for a small yearly fee based on your family’s income. That membership will grant you access to free and heavily discounted seeds, tilling supplies, soil, fertilizer and more.

The best way to learn more is to call the headquarters at 816-931-3877 or to visit the center at 6917 Kensington Ave. Meyer said there are some waitlists, so it’s best to put in your inquiry as soon as possible.

If you need tips and tricks on how to start a successful home garden in Kansas City, check out the Star’s latest guide for local gardeners.

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