Lincoln Middle School students partnered with the Garden of Eatin to design and paint a mural on the fence of a new community garden.
The garden, located at 2011 57th St., is intended to help provide fresh produce to the Grace Welcome Center to feed those who are hungry and homeless.
“Something I enjoy about being out here today is just bringing light to a part of the community that deserves such,” Lincoln student Aiden Ortiz said. “It’s nice to bring so much color into everybody’s lives through art, too.”
Spirit Alive Lutheran Church started working with Grace serving breakfasts and contributing to the food pantry.
“We noticed that if fresh anything appeared in the food pantry, the items were immediately gone,” said church member Ann Livermore.
That inspired members to think about ways to increase fresh vegetables to the pantry and used their connection to Garden of Eatin founder Andy Berg and collaborated efforts toward his existing garden with the help of Leif Peterson.
Grace’s Pastor Jonathan Barker then took organizers on a walking tour of the neighborhood and shared how Grace Welcome Center was inspired by a young girl named Naomi, who lived directly across the street from the garden who was tragically killed in a car accident. Naomi had a generous heart and often gave food to neighbors and help feed those in need. Following her death, her family hosted a block party to feed those in need, which inspired Grace to start the food pantry and breakfast program.
The garden dedicates Naomi and Dakari, the grandson of one of the neighbors of Grace, who was accidentally shot and killed. Portraits of both children are incorporated in the mural’s design.
“The neighborhood needed a safe, nurturing place where life could be encouraged through something healthy such as fresh produce,” Livermore said. “Art crosses across many boundaries and perhaps this would be uplifting.”
The project was unlike anything Lincoln student Javarion Johnson had been a part of, but he was happy to participate.
“It’s a new experience, a very enjoyable, new experience,” Johnson said. “I’ve cleaned up outside before, but I never painted anything for the community, and I really like art, so it’s fun.”
Lincoln student Armani Lovelace-Bran also enjoyed bringing a splash of color to the 40’ fence and being involved in something that gave back.
“I like being a part of community projects and when we can do stuff for other people,” Lovelace-Bran said. “I also really like art and being outside.”
Organizers hope to create a connection of the garden to the community and an encouragement for them to access fresh, healthy food while honoring Naomi and Dakari.