A one-time dress-shop owner now runs an urban community garden that feeds thousands
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Daily Good
Posted: July 24th, 2016
Our area is considered a food desert by the USDA: local residents cant buy healthy food within walking distance, and four in ten dont own cars. You could buy all the junk food and fried fish you wanted, but you couldnt buy an apple, orange or banana. I found myself giving people rides to the grocery store, and I started thinking, This would be a lot easier if people could grow their own food. We started gardening with one bed, 16 feet by 16 feet, and 10 kids, growing tomatoes and potatoes. The children were so excited. It was like magic for them. And sometimes, it was magic for me, too. The garden began as the project of an urban studies grad student and continued under the leadership of University of Illinois Master Gardeners. But in 2006, the garden faced foreclosure. No one wanted to continue. I knew what it meant, so I became the volunteer steward, and the Randolph Street Community Garden was born. To fund the garden, I took a part-time job at FedEx. We have 65 beds now. When people come to church for food assistance, their eyes light up at the sight of fresh tomatoes, beans and potatoes. I recruit them to become gardeners and offer them a bed of their own to plant. Now we have families growing their own vegetables, and community members purchasing affordable food at our marketplace. More than 1,800 people received fresh produce, and we gave away more than 4,000 pounds of surplus prepared foods. We have a lot of divisions in our community, but in the garden everyone is the same.
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