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Grassroots Wisdom Book

Gift Gardens

What better place to start in introducing this initiative than with this quotation from Gift Gardens Fresh Food Foundation’s website: “Food scarcity is a real issue adversely effecting the lives of humans all around the world. Many feel its impact daily.” Gift Gardens are one way to help alleviate food scarcity and insecurity while also bringing communities together into purposeful action. Compassion St. Augustine’s (CSA) collaboration with the Gift Gardens initiative, United Religious Initiative’s (URI) Cooperation Circles, and the Charter for Compassion brings together the St. Augustine, FL (USA) community in “address[ing] a portion of Human Rights #25, the right of every person to have food” (CSA). Partners in St. Augustine’s initiative include Feeding Northeast Florida, the Society of St. Andrew, Epic-Cure, and Smith Farms, who, together, bring food (in particular, plenty of beautiful broccoli!) to those in the area who are food insecure. What a beautiful example of networking in action to address hunger.

The Gift Gardens initiative got its start in St. Louis County, MO in 2011 by Central West End Farm owners Arthur and Nancy Culbert. The name was coined, says Nancy, to indicate “a garden from which all that is harvested is gifted to those who otherwise would be without fresh food.” As with many places around the world, St. Louis has food deserts where access to fresh, healthy food is limited. To create food oases where healthy food is otherwise scarce, the Gift Garden initiative has sprouted throughout St. Louis, with multiple partnerships between Central West Elm Farm and organizations like religious centers, bookstores, and schools, giving community members the opportunity not only to feed their neighbors, but also to learn gardening skills while bringing diverse individuals together in community. The city’s initiative served 2,500 families last year who might otherwise not have had access to fresh produce.

It’s amazing to see community gardens like these, begun through grassroots efforts and working in cooperation between farms, food pantries, and community members, thriving and, in turn, helping others to thrive. How might you use the Gift Gardens website to spark your local food security initiative? Visit the site for ways to get started!



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