fpl_volunteers.jpg(Florida International University) – An empty lot in Liberty City is now a community garden, thanks to more than 150 volunteers from Florida Power & Light and Hands on Miami.

The 1,000-square-foot garden on the half-acre plot adjacent to the Church of God in Christ International, 680 NW 71 St., will sprout bananas, peas, tomatoes and other produce that will be made available to church members and neighborhood residents.

The two-day gardening initiative was part of FPL’s “Power to Care” project designed to encourage employees to contribute to the communities they serve.

“The intent was for the employees of FPL to fulfill their corporate social responsibility in a fun way that would benefit the community,” said Nathan Reiser of Hands on Miami, which developed the project in conjunction with the church and JVH Shiloh Ministries.

People from the community who work on the garden will receive their pick of the produce.

“The idea is to keep this fresh food in the community,” said Reiser.

FPL representative Paula Henderson said the company decided to take on the project after seeking guidance from Hands on Miami, a group that provides opportunities for voluntary community service.

“We decided to work with Hands on Miami because we were not aware of the needs of the community, but when we found this opportunity we jumped right on it,” said Henderson.

Church members will maintain the garden but Hands on Miami will continue to offer assistance. 

“We are committed to Liberty City and will be helping out to improve the garden for as long as it takes,” said Reiser. “We will be sending volunteers to help maintain, improve and expand the garden because we really want it to be a viable community garden.”

Daysi Calavia-Lopez  may be reached at dcala001@fiu.edu.