- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A former University of Michigan football player is teaming up with other athletes and fans to create a community garden in Flint.

Vincent Smith and several fellow athletes started the Team Gardens program three years ago in his home state of Florida as a way to provide fresh produce to residents, The Flint Journal (http://bit.ly/1L4YdgI ) reports. Others who have taken part in efforts include former Michigan players Martavious Odoms, who helped launch the project, and Denard Robinson.

The project began with a social media campaign and a chain of emails, Smith said. The Florida garden now has several items including passion fruit, lemon and banana trees.

Smith, a running back for Michigan from 2009 to 2012, became interested in starting a garden after learning about Flint’s shrinking fresh food options while playing alongside Flint natives Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes. Smith visited the city this summer to scope out a location.

More than a dozen volunteers, including fans and friends, helped clear lots donated by a fan in Flint on Sunday afternoon. Fruits and vegetables will be planted in April and then offered for free to residents.

Smith is also working with a former player to start similar garden in Detroit and hand out bags of fruits and vegetables. The Flint project, he said, also involves connecting with community members and let them know about their food options, including the Flint Farmers’ Market.

“So with the farmers market and this nice community garden, it’s pretty positive and provides some easy access,” Smith said.

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Information from: The Flint Journal, http://www.mlive.com/flint

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