The city of Phoenix, AZ has launched its backyard garden program, giving residents the opportunity to partake in a year-long commitment to grow their own healthful food. The goal of ‘Backyard Gardens’ is to enable residents to improve their health, promote physical activity, lessen food insecurity and hunger, and potentially lower their food budgets.
The free program will accept up to 90 applicants who live within a defined geographic area; are homeowners or renters, with permission from the landlord to participate in the program; and have a household income per the HUD Fiscal Year 2021 Limits. Priority will be given to those residing in, or close to, food deserts within designated project areas. Many residents live in “food deserts” where residents are more than one mile from fresh and healthy food. According to the city’s website, Phoenix has 43 food deserts – representing 42% of the city’s population.
Participants will choose between one of three garden systems:
- Lehr – a Phoenix-based organization founded by Ed Williams, who invented the LEHR Gardens system as a sustainable, regenerative agriculture method for urban lifestyles;
- NxT – a Phoenix-based organization founded by Dr. George Brooks Jr., a nationally recognized aquaponics expert; and,
- TigerMountain Foundation – a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower communities to better themselves through cultivating gardens. It offers a traditional raised-bed garden system.
Participants will receive education and training support for 12 months, along with seeds, plant starters, and fish if the aquaponics option is chosen. They are expected to pay for water and electricity as required for the garden system and take part in data collection.