Similar to Bread for the City, a community gardening
and urban garden program in Providence, R.I., also has
focused its efforts on helping low-wage earners eat healthier. The Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) focuses
its efforts on helping lower-income families. In October
2015, SCLT helped 750 families (mostly poor), who grew
their own food, said Jenny Boone, grants and outreach
manger for SCLT.
By helping people grow their own food, the organization
believes it helps create economic opportunities for families;
provides access to fresh, healthy affordable food; improves
public health; and strengthens communities.
All its community gardens and farms were “fully subscribed” and there is a waiting list of interested people
that keeps growing. Boone said she doesn’t know how
long the wait list is, but that she takes names every spring.
“Things do open up, but often the gardens are passed from
one generation to the next,” she said.
In addition to the family farming opportunity, SCLT also
has a 50-acre urban edge garden where farmers are currently
growing lettuces, beans and other fruits and vegetables
that are sold at the local farmers’ markets and used in
With an increasing number of farmers’ markets being
equipped to handle supplemental nutritional assistance
program (formerly food stamps), people can use their benefits to buy locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables that
are sold at the markets.
“Our mission is to make healthy food accessible to all,”
SCLT has a three-quarter-acre piece of property where
it operates its City Farm. It serves as the trust’s demonstration center and also is the area where the trust grows
lettuces and beans and peppers and other fruits and vegetables that produce often and grow well in small spaces.
City Farm also has an apprentice program. According to a
2013 annual report, 80 percent of those who went through
the apprentice program were farming for a living.
As it does with the produce from the urban edge garden,
SCLT also sells the food grown at City Farm at local farmers’ markets and even to local restaurant owners who are
eager to offer their customers locally grown fresh vegetables. The trust holds what Boone calls a “huge plant sale”
every spring at the City Farm.
The program has been able to grow every year and
attaining new space for gardens has not been an issue.
They have been able to buy lots directly from the landowners
and they also have been able to plant on city-owned lots,
she said. Known as Lots of Hope, the city of Providence
leases land to SCLT for $1.
Boone says that the gardens not only offer people an
opportunity to grow food, they improve communities
by helping to cultivate relationships.
“Neighborhoods are safer because more people are out
working in the garden and people get to know each
other,” she said. “They take pride in the gardens and they
don’t want to see them vandalized. So they are a force
Christine Jordan Sexton is a Tallahassee-based freelance reporter who has done correspondent work
for the Associated Press, the New York Times, Florida
Medical Business and a variety of trade magazines,
including Florida Lawyer and National Underwriter.
Photo by *aja
Courtesy of Bread for the City; photo by Zoeica Images