New program promotes gardening, community in one of Madison's tr - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New program promotes gardening, community in one of Madison's troubled buildings

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A program thought up by a Madison police officer is promoting gardening in one of the city's low-income buildings.

The Parkside Apartments are located in the Triangle Neighborhood -- between Park St., Regent St. and W. Washington Ave. -- and are part of what's called the CDA Triangle.

Callie Reyes, the HUD Service Coordinator for the group of subsidized apartments, said the CDA Triangle is comprised of 330 units that house many elderly and disabled tenants.

Officer Kimberly Alan, who patrols the Triangle Neighborhood, said the "Parkside building is the most challenged building in the Triangle Neighborhood as far as significant calls for service."

This is a building that's historically had a lot of police calls, a lot of drug traffic happening here," Reyes said.

But Alan has started up a program dubbed the Growth on the Triangle project. Tenants of the Parkside Apartments, as well as other volunteers from the area, have been working to plant seeds into plastic trays housed in the apartment building's now-vacant cafeteria.

Come May or June, the small plants will be moved outside to various community gardens in the Triangle Neighborhood. Some will also be placed into container gardens located around the apartment complex.

"For these people, many are obviously food-challenged in some way, a lot of them are on food stamps and that kind of thing," Alan said. "So we really wanted to give them an opportunity to grow their own food."

"This is exactly what we'd like to see in this community, is people coming down and interacting," Alan said, "and people from many different buildings coming here, gardening together." 

"That's how you prevent crime from happening," Alan said. "You get people communicating and talking." Alan said better communication among neighbors results in better, community based policing of a neighborhood. It becomes easier to spot people who don't belong, she said.

Journey Mental Health, the UW-Extension Office, Quality True Value Hardware and Blain's Farm and Fleet all helped with the donation of seeds and planting supplies.

"Anyone living on the triangle here or at the Bayside (apartments) next door can come get seeds," Reyes said.

"We've even seen people who aren't planting just come in to see what's happening in the seed room," she said. "It's really created some cool interaction among residents in the building."

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