A partnership between the local Green Spaces Alliance and a nonprofit supported by Austin-based Tito’s Handmade Vodka is giving a lift up to several Bexar County community gardens, including two in North San Antonio, according to a press release.

Theb GSA and the nonprofit Love, Tito’s Block to Block program teamed up to back improvements and enhancements at more than 10 community gardens, including Cielo Community Garden in the I-10/Wurzbach Road neighborhood and High Country Community Garden on the Northeast Side.

Other community gardens getting a boost in this initiative are Alamo Heights Community Garden, Collins Community Garden, El Dorado Community Garden, Garcia Street Urban Farm, Lakeview Community Garden, and Terrell Heights Community Garden.

The GSA began working with Love, Tito’s in 2020 toward a service project. According to the news release, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, the vodka distiller pivoted support by funding needed repairs and enhancements at 12 community gardens identified by the GSA.

The alliance, formed in 1998 as an urban land trust, helps to protect undeveloped land and water resources across the San Antonio area by cultivating urban green spaces through a network of community gardens and educating people about the environment.

The GSA’s community gardens network supports more than 20 local gardens and urban farms through professional consultation, funding, educational programming and more, according to the release.

The Cielo Community Garden is located at House of Prayer Lutheran Church and serves as a grassroots partnership involving volunteers, educators and members of San Antonio's resettled refugee community.

“With the help of volunteers from Love, Tito's, we were able to build the foundation for seven new garden plots at Cielo Community Garden and start filling each with soil,” said Grace Carlin, GSA’s urban land and water program manager, in the news release. “These plots empower recently resettled refugees to grow traditional foods from their home countries to nourish themselves, their families, and their neighbors.”

There were two improvement projects at the High Country Community Garden, located near Judson and Stahl roads and Loop 1604.

“Thanks to funding from Love, Tito's, we were able to replace four aging garden beds that had become severely weathered with time and frequent use,” Carlin said.

“Love, Tito's volunteers also helped clear grass and weeds from a walking path so that gardeners and visitors may enjoy increased access and ease of mobility as they move throughout the garden.”

Love, Tito’s also worked with Restorative Farms, a Dallas-area nonprofit, to provide the GSA with 100 GroBoxes, a cloud-based automated indoor system, that can be used as instant growing spaces in community gardens. Additionally, community members may use the GroBoxes to grow their own gardens.

Lindsey Bates, program and communications manager at Love, Tito’s, said in the release the nonprofit’s community garden project was inspired by the farm that was built at Tito’s distillery to provide access to fresh and healthy foods for employees.

“The program supports community gardens and farms in communities across the country,” Bates said of Love, Tito’s efforts. “This year, our program is working with nonprofits in 28 cities, including San Antonio. By supporting improvements at these gardens, we’re hoping to help reconnect communities, one block at a time, with more resources and increased access to fresh and healthy foods.”

Bates said Love, Tito’s worked closely with the GSA to identify local community gardens that were in immediate need of improvements and enhancements to help better serve the gardeners, families and surrounding neighborhoods.

“Green Spaces Alliance team has a great relationship with all the community gardens they support and were able to select projects that the Love, Tito’s Block to Block program could support through both donations and volunteers,” Bates said.

Carlin said the collaboration between Love, Tito’s and the GSA is producing resilient gardens, which she added help to build resilient communities.

“We knew that helping [GSA gardeners] address these needs would strengthen each garden and our network of gardens as a whole,” she added.

Visit https://www.titosvodka.com/love for more on the Block to Block program. Visit https://greensatx.org for more on GSA.