Tucked away between Long's Hill and Livingstone Street in St. John's, a park that used to be a place to avoid has been taken back the community living around it.
On Saturday, more than 50 volunteers put shovels to dirt by planting more than 180 bulbs, fruit trees and shrubs to turn the underutilized Tessier Park in a fruit forest.
"This is a way for us to improve food security for the province," event organizer Chris Shortall said, adding that anyone who stops by can pick the fruit and, in time, volunteers will offer harvesting, canning and preserving sessions.
"Get back to some of the roots of what Newfoundland used to do a lot more of rather than quick, easy bought food that you put in the microwave."
Tessier Park was a sun-filled space with many hands making light work of the planting task ahead Saturday, but it wasn't always pretty.
The neighbourhood has been in and out of the media spotlight over the past few years, as drug use and sex work started to grow into the park. A high profile murder in 2013 didn't help the reputation of the downtown green space.
But local residents took action, forming the Tessier Park Neighbourhood Association in 2013 as way for those living in the area to connect. On Saturday, a few years of behind the scenes work because a reality with the start of the fruit forest.
"I think it's amazing because it is a really rough terrain and it's just been neglected," Shortall said.
Earlier this year, the group applied for a grant from Tree Canada and ended up receiving $3,000 to purchase the greenery planted on Saturday. Another $1,500 came from a Rising Youth grant. Local businesses also made donations to support the planting project as well.
Longtime residents like Danielle Douglas turned up to get her hands dirty and to help beautify the neighbourhood for people like her three year-old son Lochlan.
"This is an urban community and there's going to be those intersectional issues that we have to navigate around," she said.
"This community garden, this healing garden, is an incredible opportunity to build and to come together."
Douglas said her family has lived near the park for five generations. In its heyday it was filled with fruit trees and bushes that locals would pick and use make jam to share with their neighbours.
"We're really returning back to what was there many decades ago … really excited to be here today."
Brian Mercer was among the masses, shovel in hand, digging holes to help plant some trees. As the city of St. John's arborist, seeing an old park get new life brings him great joy.
"People just kind of used it as a way to pass through," he said.
"We're hoping it's going to be more of a place where people can stop and gather and admire the beauty of the park itself."
Mercer said a real plethora of fruit trees were being planted; pears, plums, apples and even grapes. Not to mention all sorts of flowering shrubs as well. It's expected to take a few years to see the fruits of their labours
While it may have once been a place people might go out of their way to avoid, Shortall hopes the improved space might attract positive attention.
"It's so amazing that all these people came out and gave up their free time to participate in this," he said.
"That's what it boils down to, people who actually believe in changing the environment and making the city a better place."