Unity Gardens begins final stage of new Welcome Center

NOW: Unity Gardens begins final stage of new Welcome Center

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Unity Gardens began the final stage of the new Welcome Center on Prast Boulevard in South Bend on Wednesday.

The non-profit broke ground on the project three years ago, but due to a lack of funding the group struggled to line up contractors.

Union contractors stepped up and offered to fill the missing piece of the ongoing project by braving record cold temperatures on Wednesday to help make the envisioned project a reality.

Sara Stewart, Executive Director of Unity Gardens, told ABC 57 that the non-profit raised more than $300,000 for the Welcome Center, but lacked in funding for contractors.

“And the last piece was the electric, plumbing, heating, duct-work, etc.,” said Stewart. “And so for the unions and the Contractor’s Association to step up in this way altogether….unbelievable,” said Stewart.

Despite the frigid temperatures, the union contractors worked hard on the project on Wednesday with smiles on their faces and doing it all for free.

“I don’t know, you feel like you’re really contributing to the community,” said Grant Niezgodski with Niezgodski Plumbing. “You know, you feel like you’re a part of something that’s sort of bigger than you,” said Niezgodski.

Although the union contractors are not being paid, the work they are doing would not normally come cheap, yet all the workers told ABC 57 that they are excited for what the project will mean to the community.

“It’s nice to get the community together and do good things for the community,” said David Schoff with Niezgodski Plumbing.

Stewart told ABC 57 that there is no other free food model quite like the one Unity Gardens planned.

The new Welcome Center will have healthy food for anyone in need. Both the classes and the food grown throughout the garden are free.

Stewart told ABC 57 that people in the community even brought chairs out just to gather and hangout in the unfinished building.

“And we really want to make sure that other communities can protect health and safety this way,” said Stewart.

Unity Gardens generates funding from products grown at their small urban farm that are sold to Farmers Markets. Additionally, funding comes from grants and donations.

Stewart is hopeful the Welcome Center project will be completed by the spring.

You can click here to visit Unity Gardens’ website and stay updated on the construction.

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