'Secret Garden' providing fresh produce in food insecure areas of St. Petersburg

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-20 18:07:32-04

More than 40 million Americans live in food insecure households, according to Feeding America. There is a small group of people, right in the middle of one of those food insecure places near Downtown St. Petersburg, trying to make a change.

Cristy Abbott, who works for St. Pete EcoVillage, says her job is to care for the dirt and the earth will take care of the rest.

"We've learned what has grown in our region abundantly to feed the most people," said Abbott.

The St. Pete EcoVillage is a non-profit, social service center in an economically depressed area in the heart of St. Petersburg. The Village's mission is to clean up the neighborhood while providing environmentally friendly solutions for homelessness, job skills training and employment. They also provide low income housing and teaching the way of sustainable living.

The EcoVillage was born from the ground in October 2010 and has now grown, literally, to 7,000 square feet of space on track to produce 15 to 20,000 pounds of vegetables next year.

From the figs, to okra, pineapple, eggplant, chickens. There's so much to choose from and even more to learn.

"We mostly want this to be an educational center where people can come and learn how to do this in their backyard; in their community garden and their public spaces," said Abbott.

The education expands to the local YMCA as well, teaching kids about sustainable living and using the resources the earth has provided in a smart way.

For those living in the area who can't afford fresh fruits and vegetables or just don't have access to them because the closest market is about a mile away, they have help from the EcoVillage. No one is turned away because of their inability to pay. A few hours of work in the garden will earn you fresh produce, no questions asked.

For more information on the St. Pete EcoVillage, visit their Facebook page by searching St. Pete Eco-village.

The Eco-Village is located at 302 15th Street North, just a short walk from Tropicana Field.