Grow Your Own Food! - Capital Area Food Bank
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Grow Your Own Food!

By Mark Thomas October 14, 2016

“The garden isn’t my garden, it’s their garden. It’s our garden!” says Cora Clark, Arbor View Apartments’ Resident Services Manager with Community Preservation and Development Corporation. She’s gesturing to the raised garden beds, trees, and flowers behind her, and referring to the other residents of Arbor View. The garden is “a family thing.”

Arbor View, a Capital Area Food Bank nonprofit partner, started its community garden in 2015 as a recipient of the food bank’s Partner Garden Grant. The grant, part of the CAFB’s Food Growing Program, provides DC partner sites with resources and volunteers to build a space that promotes food growing education, and brings fresh produce into communities where hunger is a reality and affordable access to fruits and vegetables often is not.
All of the produce is grown organically from seed. “I love tomatoes, and I don’t have to go buy them now,” says Cora. “Tomatoes are expensive. So I can go plant the seeds, and if I want a tomato I can go pick my own. A fresh tomato is fabulous and it’s healthy for you.”
Besides yielding delicious produce such as okra and eggplant, the garden doubles as a classroom. Cora is committed to sharing with other Arbor View residents what she learns about food growing and nutrition education at the CAFB classes offered to Partner Garden Grant recipients. She’s especially passionate about reaching children living in the neighborhood.
Her motivation for sharing this knowledge is simple: “Stores are opening up for the organic foods and the healthy foods, but if you can’t afford to go buy that, what are you going to do?” Her answer: “Grow your own!”
“Not only is Ms. Cora cultivating this garden, she’s cultivating community,” said Amanda Marino, who oversees the Partner Garden Grant at the food bank. “Ms. Cora and the other participating partners do a wonderful job engaging the communities they serve”.
Cora and Amanda
Thanks to the CAFB’s Partner Garden Grant and the Arbor View community garden, many Washingtonians who have never had the chance to visit a farm now have the opportunity to help food flourish right in their own communities.
And the growing spirit has caught on beyond the garden at Arbor View; it’s now common to see gardens on residents’ balconies. The CAFB is proud not just to provide its neighbors with food, but with knowledge that empowers them to grow their own.
balcony garden
The Partner Garden Grant is made possible through USDA Specialty Crop Block funding through the University of the District of Columbia.