YEADON, Pa. - A community garden is trying to bridge the gap between police officers and the Delaware County borough they serve.
"This section is shrubs, fruits, flowers," Volunteer Michele Forte Del Valles said.
The patch of dirt doesn’t look like much now.
"I’m for sure that’s broccoli now, and we have cucumbers and potatoes," Del Valles pointed out.
But, Del Valles says what’s growing in the brand new garden in Yeadon’s community park is more than just sprouting plants. They are seeds of hope and healing.
"A lot of people are angry. They are upset in the world, today. And, we just need to embrace healing. We all need to heal," Del Valles explained.
Yeadon’s Police Chief came up with the idea of the Love Garden, a place where officers can come, on and off-duty, to an informal, get-your-hands dirty kind of way.
"We felt this was a way to integrate policing into the community and developing relationships beyond us responding to the 911 call or stopping on a traffic violation," Yeadon Police Chief Anthony "Chachi" Paparo explained.
Call it an organic community police tactic. The love in the Love Garden stands for learning about others, opening the heart, volunteering and empowering others. Plants may not end systemic failures or the mistrust in law enforcement, but it’s a start.
"Police have to be more vocal in what we are doing positively, so it impacts the perception that all police are negative," Chief Paparo added.
The garden will soon have new fencing, signage and raised garden beds for those with disabilities. Police want to open more gardens in other parts of the borough.
"I believe it shows the community that they’re no different than we are. That they are people just like we are. They have families, they have concerns, they have desires and they have things they want to see better," Del Valles remarked.
DOWNLOAD: FOX 29 NEWS APP