In June 2010, Lee County residents Bernard Pino, a registered nurse, and Andrea Guerrero, a landscape architect, began working on a plan to create an educational, not-for-profit corporation, with the mission to teach individuals and families how to reconnect with their food source via gardening. By December, they had established Heartland Gardens, a one-acre community garden located on McGregor Boulevard, in Fort Myers.
Heartland includes a raised-bed labyrinth, with numerous separate beds utilized as community and food bank plots. “The labyrinth is also where we hold workshops and fun, hands-on classes on organic gardening, food preservation, nutrition and self-sustainability,” says Guerrero.
The land for the garden site is also home to the offices of Benchmark General Contractors, owned by Mark Anderson, a builder who is in favor of sustainable developments that include deliberately designed space for gardens in both residential and commercial settings.
To promote health, wellness and better accessibility to organic produce, Guerrero and Pino launched 500 Gardens in Five Years, an initiative intended to help interested Lee County residents build 500 food-producing gardens of 400 square feet each. “Gardens come complete with soil, compost, seeds and seedlings, and amateur gardeners can learn to grow their own food in our Grow Your Food classes,” says Guerrero, who notes that the next 15-week class begins on January 15, 2012.
Location: 16386 McGregor Blvd., Ste. 4, Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-689-4249 or visit HeartlandGardens.org.