Moline community garden takes root, grows stronger every year
"Floresciente" means "flourishing," so it's no wonder the historic Moline neighborhood has seen such success with its community garden, which is now in its third year.
"People in the neighborhood were looking for a way to better use the few green spaces in the neighborhood and to generally create something everybody can be part of," Adrian Wille, vice president of the Palomares Social Justice Center and a board member, told the Rock Island Today in an email interview. "Want to plant some vegetables? Use the garden! Want to spend some time on the benches next to the garden? Stop by and relax. Want to show your kids how plants grow and let them try a tomato? Let us know and we can show you the plants everybody can profit from."
The Floreciente Community Garden, now in full bloom next to the justice center at 133 Fourth Avenue, started with strong community support in spring 2015 to serve as a symbol for the neighborhood’s vitality.
Maryann Garcia, a volunteer and avid gardener, said the former empty lot is being used "for a good purpose." The rich soil produces towering tomato plants and onions of all colors.
She said it's rewarding for people to see a seed or small plant grow and produce food.
"All it needs is TLC," she said, which is why she spends time out there pulling weeds.
The garden was a long time coming, Wille said.
"Palomares Social Justice Center took the lead and provided the space for the garden," he said. "Financially, the garden was made possible by a grant from the Doris & Victor Day Foundation. We have also received planning support from Mary Chappell, Habitat for Humanities Quad Cities and tools and benches from Lowe's in Moline. We used our annual Celebra Floreciente neighborhood celebration to make the garden official."
The justice center, funded mostly through donations, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that works to promote social justice and neighborhood development and has for years served as a community liaison in the largely Hispanic area. In addition to the garden, the center's largely volunteer staff offers Programa Pink Pass, an annual neighborhood cleanup, Black & Brown Political Forums and English as a second language class.
The Floreciente neighborhood is bordered roughly from the Mississippi River to Seventh Avenue and from the Rock Island border to 11th Street in Moline.
Floreciente Community Garden is formed of three parts: an open green space with grass, trees and flowers; community plots managed by area families; and the Palomares plots where vegetables and herbs are grown.
"We do have plenty of tomatoes and cucumbers, but I am personally proud about the peppers and kohlrabi," Wille said.
The garden attracts visitors of all sorts, some of whom just feel a certain draw to such a pleasant green space, Wille said.
"We once watched a person getting rid of weeds and realized we don't know him," he said. "Apparently, he simply enjoys gardening, so we didn't even bother him."
Organizations in this Story
133 4th Avenue
Moline, IL 61265