A shelter for the homeless in Atlanta grasped that their residents urgently needed access to healthy food. But good, local, nutritious food shouldn’t be pricey and shouldn’t only be available to people who can afford it. But instead of sourcing out, they encouraged residents to grow their own.
Now the shelter is home to a big rooftop garden planted by the residents themselves, which is expected to yield hundreds of pounds of great-quality greens. Organic vegetables and community gardens are usually associated with tote bag-carrying, volunteer at the Coop, and well-meaning types.
While snacks and processed meats are often priced cheap, the average American spends an extra $550 dollars per year just so they could eat healthy foods. The long-term health consequences are way more substantial compared to eating discounted snacks, which provide short-term financial benefits. Now residents are responsible for eighty garden beds, producing carrots, kale, squash, and chard among other vegetables.
The organization who runs the gardening program, The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, wanted to provide a full meal, featuring freshly produced greens, to be available on site every day so homeless people has access to foods that were previously considered out-of-reach.
The Task Force believes that the residents who participated in the gardening program also learned certifiable gardening and marketing skills that may help them find future jobs. The group also provides a 24-hour hotline, casework services, and a transitional shelter outside of the garden.