BAY COUNTY, Fla.– The University of Florida’s Institute of food and agricultural sciences hosts and assists with a variety of projects in the community, one of those programs is the ‘Sonder Project’ community garden.

On the corner of East Avenue and 11th Street sits the Kingdom Impact Center church, but what’s drawing the eye of the community isn’t inside the church, it’s the beds among beds of greenery and food growing just outside the building.

“We’ve always wanted to do one but we just didn’t have the know-how or the manpower to do it,” said Pastor at Kingdom Impact Center, Lynva Massileno.

30 raised garden beds complete with a well and irrigation center are all part of a community garden. The Sonder Project, based out of Santa Rosa Beach, worked with the church to make the dream of having a community garden, a reality.

“Our mission is to strengthen communities through food security, clean water, housing, and education,” said Sonder Project Director of U.S. Operations, Kim Catellier.

So far the garden is thriving with fruits and vegetable, but the help isn’t only coming from the Sonder Project and church volunteers. The UF IFAS master gardeners are helping the community learn more about not just growing these plants, but keeping them healthy.

“They’re coming out on the Saturday workdays and just interacting with the gardeners and giving some education in an informal setting. They’ll help with identifying some of the weeds or insects or problems going on,” said UF/IFAS Bay Co. Horticulture Agent, Julie McConnell.

The best part of the community garden is the fact that anyone in the community can join. You don’t have to be a member of the church to lend a helping hand.

“Real simple process. Just come in, fill out the application, fill out the waiver sheet, and come and meet once a month for the garden day and pick your bed,” said Massileno.

“It brings everyone together, it brings a sense of community and it also provides fresh produce to the people in this community,” said Catellier.

If you’re interested in joining, head down to the Kingdom Impact Center and fill out an application to join in on the monthly community garden day.