PHOENIX — Tucked on a plot of land in south Phoenix, a new effort is being championed to create a healthier community.
"Every time you come out here you're going to feel better, you know what you're putting in the ground," said Bridget Pettis.
Pettis, a former WNBA player and Phoenix Mercury assistant coach, knows all too well the effects of good nutrition on the body.
"The athlete that cared more about and took care of their body more, that was the edge," said Pettis.
Pettis went from tending to athletes to tending to the many vegetables she's growing as part of Project Roots, a non-profit created to educate and feed those most vulnerable.
"I'm going around and looking at how we get healthy food in our community," said Pettis.
That's when she found Spaces of Opportunity - a piece of land dedicated to community gardens off 7th Avenue and Vineyard Road.
Community garden coordinator Bruce Babcock says the plots are available to use for just $5 a month.
"Right now we have a lot of cabbages and kale, that's pretty much winter crops that'll come up, we got a lot of people growing some carrots that are coming up," said Babcock.
Both Pettis and Babcock say the idea of community gardens is already catching on and Pettis' efforts already bearing fruit or in this case salad for the local food bank.
"We sent about like 12 salad packages over this week," said Pettis full of pride.
While supplying healthy food to those in need is the goal, another important aspect of Project Roots is teaching others. "Bring children here, families here to learn how to grow," said Pettis.
They'll host workshops with master gardeners from Arizona State University.
It's a small start to a big idea, one she hopes to expand across the Valley. "It would just mean everything to know that we're turning a corner in a more healthy way," said Pettis.
Project Roots is looking for a variety of donations like seeds, seedlings, compost and worm casting. If you would like to get involved, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.