Feed the Seed is an urban food systems and community revitalization program that brings together a school and the greater community to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables through schoolyard and community gardening, nutrition and gardening education, and grower’s markets.
A forgotten schoolyard garden at Gaston Point Elementary and a half-acre plot behind the nearby Family Enrichment Center on Old Pass Road are providing the setting with starter funds made available through the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge (2016), now known as HealthyCommunity50. Through the Feed the Seed program, Gulfport is one of 50 cities across the United States who have 'accepted the challenge' to make our city a healthier and more equitable place. The program is working to build community and increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in Gaston Point — a neighborhood in Gulfport, Mississippi, with a Food Environment Index of just 5.2 on a scale of 0 to 10. This index represents a high population having low-income and with low access to a grocery store — as well as the percentage of the population that did not have access to a reliable source of food during the past year.
Partnering with the Climb Community Development Corporation and Gulfport Police Department the design team from Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is rallying the community through community events, education, and community and school design/build events. In addition to one-day 'Big Build' events where these organizations and community members come together and tackle several projects needed for the community garden, students are designing and building their own schoolyard garden — delving into math, science, planting and veggie-tasting in the process, and preparing healthy recipes from the garden. Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps teams based out of Climb CDC have contributed over 1000 hours to the program, and are involved weekly in the process of maintaining the community garden site at the Family Enrichment Center. GCCDS and Climb collaborated in the design and construction of 4 planter boxes where the students at Gaston Point Elementary planted the first seeds. The beautiful garden boxes serve as the entry into the community garden where anyone can become involved in planting, growing and harvesting to increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in this community.
The Feed the Seed program fosters leadership and confidence among youth by giving them opportunities to motivate their school population and community toward healthy food choices, and works with teachers to integrate gardening activities into Common Core State Standards. Feed the Seed is engaging youth, families and all community members in activities around gardening and a teaching kitchen to increase their knowledge of, access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, with great potential to impact community health.
Please visit the Feed the Seed Facebook Page for upcoming events and the latest garden-to-table explorations!