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Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry today joined neighborhood leaders in dedicating the Renaissance Pointe Urban Farm, 2518 Winter St.

The project includes the complete rehabilitation of former fire station 9, which was retired as a fire house in the 1950s because it could not accommodate large, modern fire trucks. A new heating and ventilation system, refurbished windows and state-of-the-art commercial kitchen have been installed in the fire house. Custom-made carriage doors, which are reminiscent of the original doors, were also added. Just behind the building, three-quarters of an acre is ready for community farming.

"The City and the private sector have invested millions of dollars in new and rehabilitated housing, streets, sidewalks and trails in this area," said Mayor Henry. "The Renaissance Pointe Urban Farm is another piece of our work to revitalize the neighborhood and empower residents to live healthy lives."

The Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services (OHNS) is leasing the farm to Growing Minds Educational Services to provide programming at the farm, which is located in a food desert, or an area with limited access to fresh produce. Possible programs will include a neighborhood monthly meal, gardening classes, healthy eating and diabetes prevention seminars, cooking classes and farmers' markets. Updates on programming can be found online at: www.growingmindsllc.com/partners.

"The Renaissance Pointe Urban Farm will serve as a neighborhood resource for learning how to grow and cook fresh and healthy foods," said Heather Presley-Cowen, director of OHNS. "It will encourage residents to lead healthier lives, as well as serve as a pilot site for future community urban farms."

As part of the renovation of the fire house, the City of Fort Wayne is paying tribute to neighborhood advocate Johnnie Mae White. A plaque recognizing White's service to the neighborhood and commitment to helping others will be installed on the building.

Renovation of the former fire station, construction of a new alley and sidewalks, and site preparation for the farm is funded by federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars. The investment totaled approximately $430,000.