A 2009 study conducted by the Gallatin Valley Food Bank laid the foundation for this project in Bozeman, Montana. It reported that 20 percent of food bank clients would "feasibly be able to grow their own food at home." According to the study, "applying that number to the overall population of the Food Bank, 464 households could build and grow gardens in their homes, starting next spring." This intriguing statistic leads to a simple question. If food bank clients can feasibly grow their own food, why aren’t they? This study affirms our assumption that 1,000 New Gardens’ volunteers can help their neighbors overcome real barriers to growing food on available urban land.
Another barrier exists for this population - growing space. There is an opportunity to provide for the needs of people who do not have access to land or healthy produce through the design, construction, and marketing of another option. We'll eliminate this barrier by distributing container gardens for this population.
It's important to institutionalize 1000 New Gardens by partnering with the Gallatin Valley Food Bank on this pilot project. This will give the project credibility and support, and allow us to identify and focus on a population that will benefit most from our services. The Food Justice Gardens (a collection of organic vegetable gardens created at homes across Bozeman) will give food-insecure families access to a great source of healthy, affordable, organic produce.
We feel growing a garden is the best opportunity for this demographic to open the door to the benefits of the local foods movement. These benefits are community engagement, organic, environmentally-conscious living, substantive health and nutrition, and autonomy, which are largely seen as only accessible or desired by affluent families. This food justice model and the actions described below will break down the economic and social barriers to growing food and joining this environmental movement.
-Design a set of garden options (earthen, raised-bed, container)
that we can provide in the spring of 2011.
-Market the project at the food bank and other low-income service providers.
-Reconnect with aspiring new gardeners we identify.
-Organize the seeds and transplants, raised bed materials, soil, organic compost, tools, materials for constructing compost structures to meet the needs of food-dependent families who want to successfully grow food in their first year.
-Provide information resources to the gardeners throughout the growing season.
-Follow-up with new gardeners to assess the project in October.
-Make a 2012 action plan that builds off of suggestions provided by new gardeners.
-Participating on Dig Days and Manure Hauling Days.
-Hauling seedlings to new garden sites.
-Providing mentorship to first year gardeners.