All in NYC: Growing Produce Locally to Build Resilience—and Community—in the Bronx
Kadeesha Williams is Community Horticulturist and Urban Agriculturist in NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up community outreach program.
The Bronx has been hit hard by COVID-19, impacting not only residents’ health but also their access to fresh, affordable food. The people of the borough have demonstrated their resilience in many ways, however, including a joint effort by NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up and many Bronx community gardens and farms to establish the Community Farm Hubs program, whose aim is to greatly increase the local production and distribution of fresh produce. As part of the #AllinNYC series of stories about New York City’s resilience, Kadeesha Williams recounts how the program began and what it means to the community.
At Bronx Green-Up, we are lucky to work with people who are always looking to use what they have to build up their communities. As a Bronx urban farmer, I witnessed across the borough an outpouring of support and desire to build community from gardeners and organizers almost immediately when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. After meeting with several passionate community gardeners and leaders, the Community Farm Hubs initiative was born.
Bronx Green-Up is providing support and resources and coordinating with community gardens, community composting sites, and farms to increase local food production and distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables to emergency food providers, senior housing, and local markets. We have been able to offer training to community gardeners that focuses on how to plant, maintain, and harvest crops with COVID safety practices in place. We have also been able to build and repair growing beds and washing stations for crops at hub sites and deliver compost, plants, and personal protective equipment (PPE). NYBG turned its own Edible Academy into a hub site to produce vegetable starts for other hub gardens and donated the food grown there to those in need.
We all understand that while the initiative is new, the idea of building connections and sharing resources and ideas is not. But it is so meaningful to be able to support the Bronx community in this way now. I feel we are not only building resilience in our food supply but also playing a part in the momentous social movement that focuses on the rights of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, which has excited me and those around me. I am very happy that we are finally seeing a collective push for change in our community.
I am a born-and-raised Bronxite. New York City is my home, my community, and my family. I grew up understanding the importance of resiliency and how that has shaped our communities. The pandemic has shone a light on that once again.
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