By Heather Dockray
Aug 7, 2015
Organic vegetables and community gardens are typically associated with well-meaning, tote bag-carrying, volunteer at the Coop (and never miss a shift) types. But good, local, nutritious food shouldn’t be expensive, and shouldn’t only be enjoyed by people who can afford it. A homeless shelter in Atlanta decided that their residents desperately needed access to healthy food—but instead of sourcing out, encouraged residents to grow their own. Now, the shelter is home to a huge rooftop garden planted by the residents themselves, which is expected to yield hundreds of pounds of great quality greens.
Eating healthy costs the average American an extra $550 dollars per year, with processed meats and snacks often priced disproportionately cheap. While eating discounted snacks might give homeless residents short-term financial benefits, the long-term health consequences are substantial. The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, who runs the gardening program, wanted to give homeless people access to food previously considered out-of-reach. Now, residents are responsible for 80 garden beds, producing kale, carrots, chard, and squash, among other vegetables. A full meal, featuring freshly produced greens, is available on site every day.
Outside of the garden, the Task Force also provides a transitional shelter, a 24-hour hotline, and casework services. Residents who participate in the gardening program also learn certifiable gardening and marketing skills—which the Task Force believes may help them find future jobs. To learn more about the organization and their awesome work, check out their site here.