Along 51st Avenue in the Maryvale area, there is a plot of land that just a year ago would have seemed like just a dirt patch. With a partnership formed between community members, Valley of the Sun United Way, Cartwright School District, and City of Phoenix Police and Fire it became a beautiful community garden for families and students to enjoy.
United Way has been involved in Maryvale working on education, sustainability, and community empowerment for many years. The Cartwright School District owned the plot of land, now known as Cartwright Garden, and wanted to start a community garden as a place for students and parents to go.
United Way had volunteers at the site for the first time on September 16, 2017 where they built and installed the first 5 garden beds, cleaned up the land, and cleaned up Gus the Bus, the school district’s mobile garden education bus.
On November 17, 2017 volunteers returned and installed another 5 garden beds, growing it to a total of 10! That’s when the City of Phoenix Police and Fire got involved. A few nights after the install, Gus the Bus was set on fire and the fire and police departments had to come in and put it out, unfortunately the Bus was ruined.
Police and Fire really wanted to make a difference. Two schools surround the garden, Mark T. Atkinson School, named after a police officer, and Bret Tarver School, named after a fire fighter.
Phoenix Fire and Police collaborated with the Cartwright School District and other community stakeholders and started a movement of what they could do to help.
On January 6, with the support of the school district, United Way, community groups, Councilman Danny Valenzuela, Chief of Fire, Chief of Police, a “Day of Service” launched with over 150 police, fire and cadets putting together an additional 30 garden beds! Plus, they were able to get another Gus!
Phoenix Fire Department took on that project to clean, paint, and install new garden beds.
To continue their involvement, on February 23 of this year, Fire and Police had a “Community Day” where they educated more than 120 Students from the 2 schools on nutrition, gardening, and resiliency.
They also installed another 12 beds, bringing the total to over 50 garden beds. These are all now on an irrigation system. The garden also has 10 trees and a stage being built!
With all of this happening, others organizations are beginning to get involved too! United Way continues to support the garden by having more volunteer events at the site, ASU students came out April 7 to continue their community work by helping plant and cleanup!
We thank Phoenix Fire and Police for their continued support and being involved as the garden continues to become more than, “just a garden,” but a place where the Community can go.
With the goal of providing education, sustainability, and measurements to come we are excited to see Cartwright’s Community Garden continue to blossom.
Thank you to all of our partners, volunteers, and donors who are our hand-raisers making things like this possible. To support this garden and the growth of others like it as well as the many other ways United Way is fighting to break the cycle of poverty click below!
To get involved in upcoming garden projects, keep an eye on our volunteer calendar!