Edible Boulevards is a movement in its second year that aims to improve access to fresh produce, specifically in our Green Zone neighborhoods in Minneapolis. With one out of nine Minnesotans hungry, and our Native, Asian and Latinx neighbors twice as likely to go hungry as our White families while our Black families are four times as likely, it's essential for us to tackle this problem.
30% of Minnesotans having low access to healthy food was one reason Minneapolis created the North and Southside Green Zones and why Edible Boulevards is part of the Northside Green Zone Work Plan. The people who live in the three participating neighborhoods we're now working with have suffered from systemic racism with current food policies, which food justice advocates call food apartheid.
Our goal is to contract with urban agricultural groups that are led or co-led by People of Color from each Green Zone. Each group teaches participants how to build in-ground or raised bed gardens on the boulevard next to the site (with boulevard being defined as the space between the curb and the sidewalk). Before the ground is even broken, we test the soil to make sure it's safe for growing produce. These are two of the main items that the money is being raised for during this time of fundraising.
Teaching community members how to grow their own food, providing them with the knowledge to teach others and sustain themselves, showing participants how to cook simple healthy meals with their harvest, and working towards changing the food system are all solutions-based goals of our program. The in-ground garden design also conserves water by eliminating water runoff, and each garden reduces the amount of carbon in the air.
In addition to shared knowledge, participants are asked to share fruit with passersby, whether it be with someone who doesn't have access to land for growing their own, someone who is hungry, or someone who is curious and interested in trying something new. Our Coordinating Committee, made up of community members in the Jordan, Webber-Camden and East Phillips' neighborhoods, is designing the vision for how we'll continue to grow so that we have the greatest impact on those who need it most.
We are currently a City pilot so that we're allowed to grow these fruits and vegetables on the boulevards. However, we do not receive financial support from the city of Minneapolis. We encourage those who live in Minneapolis to contact your council members to ask them to change the ordinance so that fruits and vegetables are accepted plants we can grow on our boulevards. Neighboring municipalities like St. Paul allow it, and it's time for Minneapolis to join them.
As our friend and Edible Boulevards partner Michael Chaney from Project Sweetie Pie says, "We are changing our broken food system neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, boulevard garden by boulevard garden." And we need your help to do it!
Please join us. Your support is greatly appreciated. Follow us on Facebook, and please spread the word. https://www.facebook.com/groups/425283655203308