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Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens Receives $25K Grant

The Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens recently announced a $25,000 grant from Aetna, which will be used to construct an accessible garden for those with physical disabilities.

"I am pleased to have received this grant from Aetna. We intend to make our garden more accessible to those with physical disabilities, and this is a great first step toward that goal,” said Garden Manager Carey Smith. "We value Aetna as a community partner to help us make it happen.”

Designed by Smith with input from two local disability-rights advocates, Missy Norman and Katelyn Montgomery, the planned garden includes six wheelchair-accessible beds on a paved surface, plus a paved pathway from the front gate. A side entrance allows direct access. An accessible picnic table with shade, as well as a bench, makes a comfortable place to rest. A tool shed provides all the tools needed.

Norman said, "I am very excited to be a small part of this project. Increasing the accessibility of the garden will help expand the ability of individuals with physical disabilities to grow delicious food and potentially learn new skills. I hope that other organizations will be able to see what Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens has done and learn how they, too, can increase access to members of the community.”

The six wheelchair-accessible beds will be rented to the public in spring 2025 as part of the Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens' personal plots program, providing affordable gardening plots as well as access to tools, water, seeds and seedlings, and garden mentoring upon request.

"I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with this project,” said Montgomery. "Accessibility needs are often overlooked, and when they are addressed, it is often without consulting members of the disability community. Thank you to the Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens for their efforts to be a welcoming place to all, regardless of physical abilities. I hope this will inspire others to do the same moving forward.”

The Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens is a partnership with Kumler Outreach Ministries and the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association. Located on Springfield's North side, 2024 is the 12th year of production. Last year, over 1200 pounds of produce were harvested for the community, and the garden hosted over 2000 visitor and volunteer engagements.

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