Last fall we planted an urban food forest to address hunger in the food desert our organization happens to reside in. We planted a real forest with workshops educating us as to the dynamics and characteristics of what a forest really means. Our professional farmers- including a Nascar engineer- gave us so much information as to the significance of this project that we all walked away inspired and even more committed in this work. NoDa Charlotte is an increasingly gentrified neighborhood, increasingly hip and trendy- yet home to many who have no food to eat.
Through the generosity of a Keep America Beautiful grant we are able to enact macro social work practice in real live action: Our food forest will eventually help women to control the food supply within their families. Research indicates that if women in each neighborhood can control their family’s food- cultivating it, ensuring it’s safe and nutritious and teaching others what they have learned- then a significant blow can be dealt against poverty. Our community garden is the centerpiece of a mental health and wellness project to help prevent clinical depression which is a public health concern for women. For women of color it’s a MAJOR public health issue. So, over the next few years we will research and document the effectiveness of gardening as a mental health intervention. We are building community partnerships with stakeholders, and are in this for the long haul, We are planting seeds of change, growing up a strong community one relationship at a time.