Eight years ago a group of neighbors here in Jacksonville decided to do something about the string of burglaries and crime that had taken over their streets.
This weekend they broke ground on a neighborhood garden.
“I backed up a few years ago and said I want to help my neighborhood and I did and it worked out,” said Don Butler.
Butler is a volunteer Jacksonville sheriff’s officer working towards a safer city but eight years ago that objective was concentrated on just ending the string of burglaries in the neighborhood he grew up in.
Neighbors organized monthly meetings which lead to a “watch group” but eventually, things cleaned up. This weekend they broke ground on a new neighborhood park with support from the city and councilman Scott Wilson.
“And he said he wanted to help us with the neighborhood and he had found some grants that could help our neighborhood and bring unity to a distressed neighborhood," said Butler.
The more than 200 members of this Arlington East neighborhood association decided on a community garden.
Over the weekend dozens of neighbors came together voluntarily with shovels, wheel barrels and planters to grow the vegetables.
Butler offer says getting your neighbors to organize starts with a simple hello.
“Get to know you’re neighbor slow down just a little bit.”
He said people should watch out for each other. The garden should be complete next month in time for the next neighborhood association meeting.