By Helen Herrera
As the 2015 mini-grant funding cycle comes to an end, we would like to take this time to thank our partnering organizations for increasing access to healthy and affordable foods and safe places to be active in Wake, Lee, and Harnett Counties. Over the past few months, we have conducted end of year site visits and will be posting brief summaries of the work being done by each grant site. Today’s spotlight is on the communities gardens of Alliance Medical Ministry, Everyday Pioneers and Passage Home.
Alliance Medical Ministry Community Garden – Raleigh
Fruits and vegetables are budding all over Alliance Medical Ministry’s spacious community garden. Garden volunteers prepare seedlings, clear out weeds, mulch, and help with various other activities that are essential for the garden to continue operating. Elizabeth Daniel, Alliance’s Community Outreach Coordinator, showed us several raised beds brimming with plants ranging from kale, collards, spinach, to a variety of peppers and chilies, and even a strawberry patch! The garden also features a compost bin to reduce waste and improve garden yield.
The food grown in the garden is prescribed to patients at Alliance Medical Ministry, who are also given healthy recipes and then invited to fill a bag with produce. Community neighbors also share in the garden’s harvest. Alliance’s work is so significant and influential that the City of Raleigh recognized the Alliance Community Garden with an Urban Agriculture Award for “promoting personal and societal benefits” of gardening within their community. If you are interested in volunteering, Alliance’s garden workdays are held on the second Wednesday of each month from 5-6:30pm, and the last Saturday of each month from 9:30am-12pm.
Everyday Pioneers Community Garden – Raleigh
The Everyday Pioneers garden is thriving on what would have otherwise been an empty lot in Southeast Raleigh. There are several blackberry and blueberry bushes surrounded by an herb garden and several beds filled with okra, collards, flowers, cabbage, and more. The garden is just the beginning of a lot more good to come to the community. The garden relies on community members for weeding, planting, harvesting, and planning the upcoming expansions. In particular, Everyday Pioneers hopes to convert a shed into a greenhouse and to continue to rid the lot of debris and other structures so that they are able to expand.
If you would like to volunteer or contribute to their effort, feel free to visit the garden on Gregg Street and/or contact the organization at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Passage Home Community Garden – Raleigh
Passage Home has been busy at work! They have revamped the youth vegetable garden, built a hoop house, added fruit trees, and planted plants and flowers for pollinators. With the funding that they received from Voices into Action, they added small herb gardens throughout the building and purchased materials to help keep the garden running. Passage Home experienced their biggest harvest ever in 2015, and they are working with the Raleigh Food Corridor to create an urban market that would create job opportunities in the community.
Lester and Kristian, the project managers, continue to work with the youth by providing hands-on interaction with the garden and information about gardens, including tips for what to do with the vegetables that they harvest. The youth have taken this education a step further, and are becoming food safety certified so that they can work in Passage Home’s kitchen.
In addition, the youth continue to receive nutrition education and physical activity through Passage Home’s partnership with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) through Wake County Cooperative Extension. Passage Home is making a huge difference in their community. Want to get involved? They are always looking for volunteers.