Carolina Campus Community Garden
The Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG), located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, allows UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty, staff, and local residents to volunteer and provide free, local, and sustainably grown produce to the university’s lower wage employees. Born out of a North Carolina Botanical Garden program, the CCCG also serves as a learning community for the development of gardening skills, healthy living, social responsibility, and interdisciplinary academic pursuits.
Some of the UNC-Chapel Hill courses affiliated with the garden include Food Politics, Communications and Non-Profits, Agriculture and the Environment, Political Ecology, and Sustainable Local Food Systems.
SEEDS: North Carolina’s teaching garden
In Durham, North Carolina, SEEDS uses a two-acre teaching garden and classroom as a means of empowering youth through growing, cooking, and sharing food. The organization uses its farm and kitchen classrooms to teach students how the food system, environment, and people impact one another, along with how to make equitable and healthy food choices. Students who participate in the programs often have the chance to bring home food to their families, says Lara Goodrich Ezor, operations and communications manager at SEEDS.
Michigan Urban Farming Initiative: moving the needle on food justice
The Michigan Urban Farming initiative (MUFI) is a volunteer-run nonprofit operating in Detroit’s North End that uses agriculture as a way of empowering the community, promoting sustainability, and reducing socioeconomic disparities. Most of their work happens within a two-square-block area the organization is redeveloping and using as space to teach sustainable agriculture methods and increase access to local and organic produce. The food access element is important, given that the nearest grocery store sits more than a mile away.
Spanning about two-acres, the farm produces around 20,000 pounds of produce each year, which is free to anyone, with priority given to neighborhood residents. Typically, more than 2,000 households, churches, businesses, and food pantries receive produce from MUFI.
The farm is home to Detroit’s only high-density fruit orchard—including more than 200 trees—and has implemented innovative ideas such as converting a blighted home into a cistern that’s used for irrigation. Ideas like this improve the neighborhood by removing abandoned buildings and replacing them with something that benefits the community.