23. Detroit: Keep Growing Detroit
Keep Growing Detroit is a 501(c)3 nonprofit (registered 2014) operating in one of the most neglected cities in the US, where 20% of the residents are food insecure and the city’s jobless rate is 14.3%. Residents have limited access to grocery stores due to an unreliable mass transit system and buy their food at gas stations or convenience stores with bulletproof windows in monitored transactions. The mission of Keep Growing Detroit is to promote food sovereign so that the majority of fruits and vegetables Detroiters consume are grown by residents within city limits. The long-term strategy is to foster healthy relationships with food by increasing knowledge of food and farming, nurturing leadership skills, cultivating community connections and capacity, changing the value of food, and developing food assets.
The goal of this year’s project is to enable urban farmers to increase access to healthy fruits and vegetables and to facilitate educational and community events that promote healthy relationships of people to good nutritious food. The first objective is to support more than 1500 family, community, school and market gardens that will produce 150 tons of produce for predominately low-income families. The second objective is to facilitate 19 educational workshops and community events that will engage approximately 400 residents. Annually renewable project.
24. New York City: Feeding Youth Starved for Meaning
Since 2005 the Reciprocity Foundation (RF) has been working to support homeless and foster-care youth aged 13-26 in their transformation from impoverished homeless kids to employed persons playing a leadership role in society. In 2011, Reciprocity opened the first Holistic Center for Homeless Youth in the US, which offers counseling, meditation, yoga, retreats, coaching, college admission support, and digital media training. In 2012, because of food shortages at homeless shelters, students were arriving hungry and unable to focus. To address this need, BGR provided Reciprocity with a grant to enable them to start a vegetarian meal program called “Starved for Meaning” to serve the youth a communal meal. Over the past two years, funding from BGR helped Reciprocity expand its kitchen facilities and double the number of meals served from two to four per week; the number of youth coming to the center for food also increased. In a questionnaire, 100% of the youth said their life improved as a result of the meals. They experienced a greater sense of belonging and felt more optimistic about their life. For 2015, Reciprocity’s goals are to increase the capacity of the vegetarian meal program, start an urban farming project, take the food program to the streets, and provide nutritional education. Annually renewable project.
25. New York: Urban Community Food Project
The Urban Community Food Project was founded in 2011 in the Bronx, New York, under the auspices of the Urban Rebuilding Initiative. Its mission is to create a sustainable food system that is equitable in the production and distribution of food; a system that provides nutritious food to food insecure communities in New York while educating and employing at-risk youth and disenfranchised adults in order to combat incarceration, systematic poverty, and the root causes of hunger. The Project recently acquired a parcel of land in Duchess County, in upstate New York, which it intends to use to increase its agricultural output. In 2015, BGR funding will be allocated to the Staff Development Program. This will enable UCFP to expand its growing efforts in Duchess County, where they will cultivate food and make new community connections. Three to four individuals will be hired to create a core team that will facilitate this expansion. Annually renewable project.
26. Santa Clara County, CA: Cultivating Organic Home Gardens
The mission of Valley Verde is to develop and support programs that improve the health of low-income residents in Santa Clara County and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to provide locally grown vegetables for their communities. The long-term strategy is to reduce food insecurity by teaching residents organic gardening skills, training gardening mentors, and growing plants for program members. To date, VV has 400 members. 86% of VV gardeners are Latino and 87% are women. Eight mentors have been trained and six gardeners are growing plants for program members and retail sales. The grant from BGR will enable VV to train 60 participants to become successful home gardeners. Ninety VV participants will receive raised garden beds, soil, compost, drip irrigation systems, seedlings and seeds at no cost. Each gardener will attend nutrition and gardening workshops and will have mentoring opportunities. The Super Jardineros Project will be launched by selecting 7-10 experienced gardeners to participate in 3-5 classes where they will learn how to germinate and care for 250 seedlings that will be sold in the retail market. Annually renewable project.
Thanks are again due to Kim Behan, BGR Executive Director; Patti Price, Chair of the Projects Committee; and Jessie Benjamin, Charles Elliott, Carla Prater, and Jennifer Russ, who helped prepare the material used in this series of posts.