5 Charities Fighting Food Insecurity

Growing Spaces gives thanks to these non-profit organizations dedicated to food equity

Growing Spaces is thankful that we have stayed healthy, and able to continue to produce our Growing Domes during this extraordinary time.  We have also experienced unprecedented demand as more people realize the benefit of growing their own healthy, nutritious organic food and creating a beautiful relaxing space to spend time while at home.  But we wanted to take a moment and show our appreciation to five outstanding non-profit charities that are actively fighting food insecurity and working to improve the health and nutrition of the residents in their communities.  See what Growing Spaces is doing to support these great causes, and learn how you can help.  We are also excited to announce a new Urban Community Garden Grant opportunity for 2021! Our mission is to enable more people to successfully grow fresh, organic, and nutritious food year-round in a Growing Dome Greenhouse. 

Harvest for food insecurity charity Food System Food Equity Coalition
Archuleta Food System | Food Equity Coalition

Navajo Nation

Navajo Nation has always been a food desert, with limited access to fresh, nutritious food. But they have also been greatly impacted by COVID-19, with one of the highest infection rates in the country.  In response, many people in the community have been actively working towards creating more local and sustainable food sources.  One of the innovators working to improve food security on the reservation is Tyrone Thompson, a Navajo Master Gardener working to revitalize dormant farm plots and build family farms and greenhouses for the reservation.

To ignore Navajo Nation is a denial of humanity and an acceptance of genocide. They deserve better.

Rev Jesse Jackson Sr

CBS recently aired a documentary about the impact COVID-19 has had on Navajo Nation, which featured Tyrone and his work. He is combining indigenous techniques with modern farming practices to create local and sustainable agricultural systems and improve the health and wellness of the tribe.

Navajo Master Gardener Tyrone Thompson growing in a greenhouse
Navajo Master Gardener Tyrone Thompson growing in a hoop house

Udgar and Puja were always strong supporters of Navajo Nation, and built two Growing Domes at the reservation.  We will also be donating a 26’ Growing Dome Greenhouse this fall for Navajo Gardens, a family farm near Tuba City, AZ.  They are creating gardens for their local elders to have access to local, fresh, healthy foods! Tyrone created a Facebook fundraising page for people to help with site preparation, raised bed materials, organic soil, irrigation lines, water tanks, fencing and other growing supplies. You can also donate to the Official Navajo Nation COVID relief fund.

Mattersville Vets: Heroes and Hybrids

Growing Spaces strongly supports those who serve our country and are very proud of the veterans we have on our team.  We have recently partnered with Mattersville Vets, a non-profit that is building off-grid tiny home communities for veterans with PTSD.  What is even more unique, is they are also building a wolf sanctuary and actively adopting wolves and wolf-dogs that need a home. They are training the hybrids to help the vets living in the community cope with PTSD.  Even building pens under their beds, and training them to recognize and provide comfort when the vets are having PTSD related nightmares.

They have a gardener on staff to grow their own food and provide a healthy nutritious diet for the Vets. To help the community be more sustainable and self-sufficient year-round, we are donating a 26’ Growing Dome Greenhouse for the Sedalia development.  My family has also been volunteering to build wolf pens and prepare the site for the greenhouse and more tiny homes. We had the honor of building a larger pen for Cody, an abused WolfDog who needed a larger pen, and had the opportunity to visit with some of their newest residents, Drogo, Bain, and Gamora, who were recently saved from being euthanized in Louisiana.

I met the founder of Mattersville, Drew Robertson, at an off-grid event in Golden last summer and was amazed by his passion and enthusiasm for the project. He lost his best friend to a PTSD related suicide and took it upon himself to make a lasting change for other vets with PTSD. Mattersville just purchased an additional 35 acres in Hartsel, Colorado, and plan to put 100 Tiny Homes on that property for veterans with PTSD. Their mission is to provide a safe community for Veterans to thrive into a sustainable tomorrow.

Heroes and Hybrids is a program at Mattersville that was started after they learned that the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Foundation was closing, due to the Founder’s health. Since working with animals can be extremely healing, the program is designed to integrate the lives of veterans and wolf-dogs to drive their mutual relationships toward something they call Pack Healing. Mattersville has continued the private tours started at Rocky Mountain Wildlife Foundation, and runs entirely on donations, for both the veteran’s programs and the wolves. Sponsoring a wolf will help provide the means to take care of the wolf-dogs, while donations will go to the housing and sustainability of the veterans. You can also donate directly to the Growing Dome greenhouse project, which will help with site-prep, raised bed materials, organic soil, and other gardening supplies. Simply specify ‘Growing Spaces Greenhouse’ when making your donation.

Chris Pepper
Chris Pepper

We would also like to remember one of our veterans who passed away too soon from complications from throat cancer last summer.  Chris Pepper was a skilled carpenter, a talented artist, a great friend, and awesome co-worker, and so many other things.  He wasn’t just the guy who designed and built our lumber shop, he WAS the shop.  He was the kind of guy who was all about “getting ‘er done”.  Everyone here at Growing Spaces misses him dearly.

Growing Spaces Urban Garden Grant 2021

Growing Spaces stands in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and will start accepting grant applications for 2021 that are focused on urban communities and communities of color.  To learn more and download the grant application, visit our community garden grants page. Food insecurity is a significant challenge in many lower-income communities, and Growing Spaces would like to support more projects and organizations looking to improve access to healthy organic food through urban farming.

Urban Growers Initiative

One such organization is Urban Growers Initiative in South Chicago, who built a 42’ Growing Dome Greenhouse for the Shaffer Park Farm in 2017.  WTTW in Chicago recently featured them on their evening news broadcast, and we feel the piece really highlights the benefits that urban gardening can bring to the community.

Shaffer Park Farm was established in 2015 to serve the residents of South Chicago. The 14-acre site is designed to engage residents in both food and fitness activities. The park has walking trails, along with an urban farm and community garden. They have a summer job training program and created an acre of community garden space to engage the broader community. They are expanding the number of incubator farmers and adding up to 100 plots for neighborhood gardeners.

The farm and community garden at Shaffer Park serves three functions; training, mentoring, and coaching for individuals to obtain increased agricultural and growing capacity, with a focus on individuals from communities with a lack of food access. Your support is needed to continue to expand their community gardens and programs.

GoFarm Coop Golden, CO

Growing Spaces has been partnering with GoFarm for over a year. Last year we donated the use of a 26’ Growing Dome Greenhouse in Golden, CO to the GoFarm Incubator Project, and the project has been an outstanding success. The Growing Dome is being farmed by Colorado-born farmer, Shannon Harker, who is an apprentice with the GoFarm Incubator. The Incubator trains and supports the next generation of farmers, and allows Shannon to expand her customer base by growing fresh produce year-round.  Not only does she provide food for GoFarm’s food shares, but she also sells to local restaurants who are looking for very specific types of produce that are hard to source locally.  While the restaurants were closed, Growing Spaces purchased her produce and donated it to a local food hub providing meals to children in lieu of school lunches.

“I feel really fortunate to have been able to be a part of the GoFarm Incubator program. The program gave me access to the leaders of the burgeoning metro area farm community which is filled with a tremendous amount of resources, knowledge and farming wisdom.

Growing in the dome has been an Invaluable experience. I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with year round growing and season extension which is a key factor in making a market farm business successful.

I’ve learned all the basics about intensive crop production, timing winter crops, and growing high value crops.  I’m finishing up the program this fall and will walk away with a ton of confidence thanks to this growing experience.”

Shannon Harker, GoFarm Farmer Apprentice
GoFarm Farmer Apprentice Shannon Harker installing a drip irrigation system in a Growing Dome
Shannon Harker installing a drip irrigation system in a 26′ Growing Dome

In addition to the Farmer Apprentice Program and it’s Local Food Shares, GoFarm offers a SNAP and Discount Local Food Share. As part of their mission to bring healthy, local, affordable food to everyone in their community, they offer half-price shares for eligible, limited-income households. They are currently raising money for a Mobile Market Truck to be able to deliver food shares to those who can not drive to a pick-up location. GoFarm is also a 501(c)(3) charity that relies on fundraising to maintain operations and fight food insecurity.  This year all of their public fundraisers have been canceled, including the joint event we had scheduled in May.  Their annual Harvest Dinner is their largest fundraiser of the year, and this year they will be hosting it virtually. They have a great program planned, with ticket options for zip codes in GoFarm’s service area and supporters outside of Jefferson County.

GoFarm 6th Annual ‘Virtual’ Harvest Dinner

Saturday August 29th, 2020 6:30pm – 7:45pm

Chef Chris Medved will be preparing an all vegetarian, 3-course dinner that will be delivered straight to your front door! The event will then be hosted online, via zoom, where we will eat our meals together as a community, but physically apart. We have a wonderful zoom program planned where we will share stories and pictures about GoFarm’s impact, host a live auction with incredible items, and share our appreciation for our local farmers and local food partners during this global pandemic. NOW is the time to band together in support of local, sustainable agriculture, and fight for food security and equity for all. We hope you join us for this 1-of-a-kind Harvest Dinner event.

Lem and Liz Tingley at the 2019 GoFarm Harvest Dinner
Lem and Liz Tingley at the 2019 GoFarm Harvest Dinner

Ticket Options:
$100 Ticket: includes a 3-course, vegetarian meal prepared by Chef Chris Medved, a commemorative GoFarm drinking glass, local flowers, cookbook and seed packets provided by Slow Food Colorado, and participation in our online zoom Harvest Dinner event. The meal and following items will be delivered straight to your home in time for the start of the event at 6:30pm. Must live in the following zip codes for dinner delivery: 80401, 80403, 80228, 80007, 80005, 80004, 80002, 80033, 80215, 80214, 80226. If you do not live in these zip codes but would like to opt for dinner pickup, you will pick up your order on Saturday August 29th, between 2-4pm at Nomad Taqueria and Beer Garden in Golden.

$25 Suggested Donation Ticket: includes participation in our online zoom Harvest Dinner event! This ticket option is open to all zip codes across Colorado and beyond.

Growing Spaces is also excited to announce we are donating a 15 ft. Geodesic Dome Greenhouse for the live auction! Valued at $9,040, which includes shipping anywhere in the lower 48 states. (Bidding will start at $5k)  

Food Coalition 4 Archuleta County and The Geothermal Greenhouse Project

The Archuleta Food System|Food Equity Coalition was established as a grass-roots community organization to understand the local food system with the aim of advancing food equity in our community.  Over the past two years, representatives of non-profit organizations, educators, government agencies, community members, private sector, youth, growers/producers, and others have come together with a focus on the local food system. One of the major areas of the Coalition is to identify barriers to accessing affordable and locally grown/produced food. A second is to increase the food supply by encouraging growers, both backyard and Growing Dome Owners, to plant more than they need and donate their excess harvest to the coalition.  When the current COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Coalition rapidly transitioned to an emergency response team and included food organizations, health care professionals, community members, and others to its organization.  In that effort, the Coalition has raised funds and purchased CSAs from local growers for local food pantries, encouraged production and donations by local growers, and developed new food distribution lines.  The Coalition continues to work on the task of finding systemic solutions to food insecurity.

They have doubled the food distribution in their 6 food hubs since the pandemic started, and provide nutrient-dense food to fight food insecurity in the SW region of Colorado. Many large families in the region were impacted when the head of the household became unemployed, and the Food Coalition also supports the local Southern Ute Reservation.

Geothermal Greenhouse Project support food insecurity charities
Geothermal Greenhouse Project

The Geothermal Greenhouse Project in Pagosa Springs has been actively supporting this effort through both produce donations and their efforts to increase the local food supply in a region where local growers face severe climate challenges. While donations continue through the Community Garden Dome, the Education Dome has transitioned to providing local produce to the community through the Pagosa Farmers Market. It will return to donating at the end of the market season and sell from the dome in the future.  In the future, they will also resume the educational and community gardening experiences that have been part of their offering from the outset. The Innovation Dome, when complete will be a key component in the challenge of increasing the local food supply with its year-round aquaponic greenhouse production.  The mission of the GGP is to educate the community in sustainable agricultural practices by producing food year-round using local renewable energy.  This mission put the GGP in a perfect position to turn its efforts toward alleviating the food insecurity issues associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Growing Spaces has also been actively supporting both the Food Coalition and the GGP through in-kind donations and harvesting the produce from our five Growing Dome Greenhouses to the food shares. In March 2020, we transitioned all of our domes to optimize food production and focus on crops that were most needed by the coalition. Our lead gardener Heather Gray, and her 27 years of experience in production farming, were integral to this effort.

Carrots being harvested for a local food insecurity charity
Carrots being harvested in our 33′ Growing Dome Greenhouse

Are you a Champion for Food Security?

One thing all of these food insecurity charities and organizations have in common is a champion who is passionate, hard-working and motivated to fight food insecurity in their communities.  We find that the most successful Growing Dome projects have a strong leader, dedicated to the organization, food equity, and have the ability to “get ‘er done”. If you are one such person, please visit our garden grants page for information on Growing Spaces grants and other school and community garden grants.

 

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