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New farm-to-food-bank program puts dent in city's food desert

Patch logo Patch 8/7/2019 Leah Bueno
a man standing next to a building © Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media

ST. PETERSBURG, FL(July 3, 2019) – Daystar Life Center’s bright new facility is in the heart of the community it serves, which is also a food desert. Many residents must take two busses, a cab or ride share to buy fresh produce.

But the design of the new 11,000-square-foot bright yellow building and a new program started by Place Architecture will go a long way to bringing healthier habits and food to more than 200 clients a day. A garden with raised wooden beds provides 650 square feet of growing space that will not only supply some of the fresh produce offered to Daystar clients, but also teach them how to grow their own food.

“The goal is that they will volunteer in the garden or take a class and learn how to grow tomatoes on their own front stoop or backyard,” said Tim Clemmons, executive director of Place Architecture, the firm that designed the building and donated time and materials to construct the garden.

Much of the new facility is designed to promote healthy eating. An instructional kitchen has plenty of space for showing clients easy ways to fix vegetables that come right out of the garden a few feet away. Though it is large enough to seat 40 people, Clemmons wanted to keep the appliances and footprint of the cooking area simple, so people could picture themselves preparing the foods the same way in their own kitchens.

“This wonderful garden is working to build the culture of health in our community through innovative educational opportunities and improved access to healthy foods,” said Kim Lehto, coordinator of the city’s Healthy St. Pete initiative.

Place Architecture designed the childcare room to overlook the garden, allowing kids to get an early start seeing colorful vegetables grow and even watch their parents helping in the process.

Daystar’s “choice” food bank is designed to look like a grocery store. Clients can go through and pick out their own foods, instead of accepting pre-packaged bags like Daystar offered when it was in its previous facility that was about a fourth the size of the new one.

Place Architecture designed the facility to be welcoming and bright with high ceilings and walls of windows. There is a front door porch for easy access for those arriving by foot or from the nearby bus stop as well as a back porch for clients coming by car or bike.

Along with the food bank, Daystar also provides clothing, a computer lab, ID cards, bus passes, gas vouchers, hygiene products and other basic necessities.

About Place Architecture: St. Petersburg-based Place Architecture, PlaceArc.com, has a wide variety of expertise, having also designed Armature Works in Tampa and residential condo high rises, Bliss and The Salvador, in St. Petersburg.

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