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Community gardens helping Tampa neighborhood that lost Winn-Dixie store

Posted at 4:19 PM, Mar 16, 2018

TAMPA — After Winn-Dixie announced Thursday they plan to close almost 100 stores across the country, people are beginning to weigh the impacts it may have on local communities.

Winn-Dixie parent company to close 94 stores, including 10 in Tampa Bay

A Winn-Dixie closed in 2016 that was right across the street from the University Square neighborhood.

“That was our walkable grocery store,” said Sarah Combs, with The University Area CDC.

“They don’t realize when something like that happens, how it really devastates the community,” she said.

The lower-income area relied heavily on a close store that was within close proximity for people who lived there.

Since then, the community has relied heavily on the Harvest Hope Community Garden to give them access to fresh food.

The garden grows greens like Kale, different types of spinach lettuce, as well as a wide variety of vegetables.

“Our community garden has become like the heartbeat to the community,” said Combs.

There are two other community gardens in the works right now in the Tampa area through the Garden Steps project through the Coalition of Community Gardens.

Plan Hillsborough wants to host a Garden Steps event in April to help other communities interested in a garden.

The hope is to add another 20 like the Harvest Hope garden.

Along with the garden, the University Area CDC, a non-profit, plans to add affordable housing around the garden.

For more information on the free meeting on Friday, April 6, click here.