Asbury Farms community garden gets part of $1 million in grants for north Flint
(9/11/2019) - The Asbury Farms community garden is using its share of $1 million in grants to Flint's north side to promote healthy eating habits by growing food close to home.
The Ruth Mott Foundation announced its latest round of grants to help 22 programs on the north side this week.
Asbury Farms started as a single garden in 2011 and has expanded over eight years to include 11 hoop houses spread out around northside neighborhoods. They are transforming blighted properties.
"The idea originally with the gardens was to get people out of their houses into the community to meet each other," said the Rev. Tommy McDoniel of Asbury United Methodist Church in Flint.
He said the Flint water crisis put a renewed emphasis on producing healthy food for the community.
"When the water crisis hit is when it went from community gardens to we need to make sure that our families are getting the nutrition that they need in order to mitigate the negative effects of lead every day," McDoniel said. "And every day doesn't mean when we have a food drive and we're able to give away food."
He said goal is to make the community reliant on themselves and develop commerce in the community.
"To go, to take a food desert and go from being a food desert to being an exporter of food," McDoniel said.
Asbury Farms hires members of the community to work on the urban farms while also hosting groups of kids who learn about solar energy, nutrition and how to grow fruits and vegetables.
McDoniel said a recent grant of more than $100,000 from the Ruth Mott Foundation will help their efforts grow and eventually become profitable
"It's not just about the money. They have a sincere interest in the community and in the partners that they're supporting, being successful," McDoniel said.
The farms sell quite a bit of what they harvest, donate some and use the rest at their farm to table cafe.
"What stops the struggling is when we start to work together and we can build a community without the usual resources that you might have in a community, by putting our minds together and putting our labor together," McDoniel said.