The Growing and Growth Collective, supported by Partners Achieving Community Transformation, aims to improve health outcomes and increase community engagement through social action in high GDPOC (Black, Indigenous and Colored) neighborhoods by creating a responsive, culturally relevant and evidence-based programming is enabled. based.

The group’s volunteer, Adrienne Williams, has been growing together with her mother and aunt in community gardens for more than four years, for health reasons and to get in touch with her family.

Williams attended the 10-week Ohio Masters Urban Farmer Workshop series developed by OSU Extension, an Ohio State University program that provides informal educational opportunities.

The course provides everything you need to know about agriculture, from soil science and pollinators to setting up an urban farm for community gardening or small-scale farming in the city center. It was here that Williams met another woman who expressed interest in creating her own community garden.

The two women decided to revive a disused community garden they found on Greenway Avenue in the Woodland Park neighborhood last year. It was around this time that protests began in central Ohio and across the country

“We thought, ‘Okay, getting people involved in farming is great, but is there another angle?’ And so, in the end, the Growing and Growth Collective was founded, ”said Williams.

She said the group wants to make sure they are deliberate in their programming, messages, and mission, as well as in how they interact with the community.

“There’s the agricultural article, but there is definitely a sociopolitical component, there is a historical component that we talk about a lot, especially when you think of BIPOC and our connection to the country; it’s very nuanced, ”said Williams. “And make sure that we respect this heritage and this history and speak about it consciously.”

GGC has raised funds for its work and programming through grants and individual donations in five community gardens on the Near East Side – Greenway, Hildreth, Mamie Mack, 21st and the Julialynne Walker Gateway Learning Garden in the King Arts Complex.

This program includes Market-to-Kitchen Thursdays – in partnership with Bronzeville Growers Market, supported by the Maroon Arts Group and operated by GGC site manager Julialynne Walker – and weekly visits to the James Mobile Education Kitchen in Hildreth, led by Jim Warner from the nutrition department of the Wexner Medical Center.

And recently the group received funding for a tall tunnel tire house in the Mamie Mack garden, which extends the growing season for the garden and, among other things, helps supply products for the Bronzeville market.

Funding GGC also lowers the barrier to growth by providing the community with “starters” to improve food access and affordability.

An impressive list of leaders and volunteers help cultivate this work, including Autumn Glover, President of PACT; Julialynne Walker, director of the Bronzeville Growers Market & Agricademy; Tim McDermott, Ag and natural resource instructor at OSU Extension Franklin County; Jim Warner, program director of nutritional services at Ohio State University Medical Center; Victor Williams, President of the Douglas Foundation; Cassaundra Patterson, general manager for PACT; as well as community members Marjorie Jean-Baptiste, Williams and Jera Oliver.

Oliver is from the state of Ohio and has seen what community engagement can be like at times: an expert comes and prescribes solutions based on a study or research that can work, but there is another way that a community leads to collaborative solutions is empowered. without assuming knowing the answer.

“We emphasize that we will not give an answer,” said Oliver. “We come in for conversation and activity so people can find their own answers.”

The group hosts community talks and quarterly book chats on Black and BIPOC farmers and agriculture, as well as historical issues that directly impacted black growers.

“What I’ve seen is that when we have these conversations, a lot of people are amazed at the impact agriculture has had on our history and how it still shows today,” said Williams.

The group has had discussions on 1619 – the podcast component of the New York Times’ 1619 project – mostly about black farmers. In particular, the 1999 Pigford v Glickman class action lawsuit was a revelation to contestants, Williams said.

And this month, the group reads The Color of Law, which deals with the systematically imposed neighborhood segregation by federal, state and local governments in the United States

“Lots of them, I think you could say [are] Factors influencing even black breeders and BIPOC breeders today, ”she said. “Most of this is being affected by redlining in some of the systemic ways in which blacks and browns have been kept out of certain neighborhoods, and how that has resulted in a lack of access to grocery stores, a lack of space for growth, and many of those things that as they say today, have social determinants of health. “

Oliver aligns GGC’s mission with the city of Columbus’ efforts last year to declare racism a public health crisis. Just as one’s own income, level of education and neighborhood have an impact on health, environmental injustices such as underproductive soil, high lead content, poor infrastructure and environmental pollution also affect these neighborhoods.

Because of this, the group seeks better health outcomes and increased civic engagement for BIPOC through urban agriculture. That and promoting positive and empowering relationships between BIPOC and agriculture.

“It was really important to us to come out of an empowering perspective as opposed to ordinance or direction,” Oliver said, noting that agriculture is historically in the DNA of black Americans.

Overall, Williams hopes the group will encourage people to think more critically about agriculture.

“We really want to take a holistic approach to saying that farming and gardening are fun, but there is definitely an aspect where there is the political lens,” she said. “It is therefore very important for us to have this conversation, because history provides information about the here and now and the future.”

This article has been updated to include information about Growing and Growth Collective programming and to correct the New York Times (not 1916) 1619 project name.

More information and volunteering opportunities can be found at linktr.ee/growingandgrowthcollective.

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