HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough MPO Garden Steps program just received a $50,000 grant in a national competition.
The grant money will go towards creating and highlighting community gardens throughout the county.
Officials hope the gardens will reduce some health issues many people in Hillsborough County are facing.
"We're looking at what can we do from an infrastructure perspective, growth perspective to help people be healthier," says Beth Alden, Exec. Director of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Organization.
Twenty-eight percent of residents are obese in the county compared to 20-24% for other Florida counties of similar size. Deaths due to hypertension are 2 to 3 times higher than levels in other counties. Chronic disease is also more prevalent in low-income urban "food deserts."
The community garden in Tampa Heights is a prime example of a successful food garden. It provides healthy produce to families in the area and promotes walking and biking.
With the grant, Hillsborough MPO will also be installing more signage to direct people to the gardens.
Grow Community Gardens will be having a conference in Tampa on April 6 at the University Area CDC.
You can learn about installing a garden in your community by clicking here.