Rockford Housing Authority's Urban Foods Initiative Grows Gardens

By: Meghan Dwyer Email
By: Meghan Dwyer Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The Rockford Housing Authority now has a garden or a farm site at all of its family properties. It's part of the organization's urban foods program, which encourages residents to eat healthier and take pride in their communities.

Blackhawk has the largest area - an acre for farming. Nearly half of all residents help with planting and harvest. The site also doesn't have a fence, because all residents are welcome to the food.

"There's no stealing. This is a community garden, and that's what it's here for, to feed the community. I'd rather not put a fence around to feed people, than to put a fence around it and have someone walk past it hungry," says Janice Carpenter, garden supervisor.

Local children sell the extra produce at farmer's markets or bundle it and sell it to seniors. Grant money pays for most of the seeds and upkeep, though local groups like Lutheran Social Services help supervise the gardens. They say community gardening has made the properties feel safer.

RHA hopes to help open a grocery store on Rockford's west side in the next six months, to make healthier food more accessible to residents in so-called "food deserts" where groceries aren't available,

It's also hoping to start a farmer's market and a mobile grocery store.

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