Some of the United States’ poorest neighborhoods not only suffer from poor infrastructure and a lack of decent-paying jobs, but many residents in these areas also struggle because of a lack of access to fresh and healthy food. Some of these “food deserts,” however, have seen some amazing turnarounds. Once blighted vacant lots from Los Angeles to Detroit to New York have transformed into stunning farms that grow amazing produce for locals while offering the same people economic opportunities.
One non-profit that is making a difference for residents through farming is Growing Power, a non-profit that has sparked farms in Milwaukee and Chicago. In addition to demonstrating garden and farming methods, the non-profit also runs youth programs and distributes food from small family farms to neighborhoods that need it the most. Growing Power’s success has allowed it to start satellite programs in some states in the Deep South. Now the organization has received a helping hand from a leading organic winery.
Bonterra Vinyards is now partnering with Growing Power, with the end result of $20,000 in donations to local urban farming organizations in as many as 10 cities. Wine afficionados and urban farming advocates can help local farmers and gardeners in their communities raise funds during this four week campaign, which ends October 7.
One city that could use the assistance is Miwaukee. Sometimes called the “most segregated city in America,” this city of 600,000 on Lake Michigan has a large food desert on its north side; its African-American residents also have one of the highest obesity rates in the United States. If Growing Power can reach its funding goals, the organization can commit to bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to the city’s public schools.
Bontera’s goal is to raise a total of $100,000 for Growing Power, and in the meantime, it hopes to spark a national dialogue about the need for healthy food. For many consumers, we simply walk into a store and see the products, without really thinking about how food gets from the ground to a store’s shelves. But as Growing Power’s CEO has explained, it takes more than farmers to ensure that healthy food gets to school cafeterias and family dinner tables.
The partnership has less than three weeks to raise the funds needed—and if more Americans can learn about urban farming’s benefits by donating even a little cash, Bontera and Growing Power will accomplish a lot for neighborhoods that are in most of healthy sources of food.