A Fresh Approach: Community Garden Ground Breaking to Address Food Insecurity

HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 17, 2015 – A group of residents in the West End neighborhood of High Point have dedicated one year to creating plans for a sustainable community garden. Their plans will grow into reality at 5 p.m. on Sept. 24 when they break ground on the Bountiful Harvest Community Garden in a part of High Point that is considered a food desert.

The event is free and open to the public. Food and informational booths will be available.

The Bountiful Harvest Leadership Team consists of 11 neighbors who have drafted operating procedures for the gardens and answered big questions: Where can it be located? Who manages it? Where will the food go? How it will remain sustainable for years to come?

Anna Mahathey HPU VISTA 2The neighbors received support from Anna Mahathey, a High Point University graduate and AmeriCorps VISTA hosted at HPU, as well as West End Ministries and The Greater High Point Food Alliance.

Mahathey was assigned to oversee certain projects at West End Ministries during her time as a VISTA, including a community survey that asked residents what could benefit their neighborhood. A community garden was high on the list of responses.

“What I found was that people really wanted to cook with fresh vegetables – peppers, corn, tomatoes,” Mahathey said. “That was a desire they had, and there are no stores or markets in the area that offer that.”

That’s part of what makes West End a food desert. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.

Mahathey led the formation of the leadership team that has met since October 2014 on a weekly basis and guided them toward owning the project. She finished her work as a VISTA over the summer, just before the garden was able to come to fruition.

But next week, she’ll return to see the leaders of that team break ground on their vision.

“This garden will produce more than food,” said Marvin Dunlap, Bountiful Harvest leadership team co-chair and West End resident. “It will provide the necessities for what each individual may need. Sometimes that’s food. Other times that is a sense of community or physical activity.”

Ross Lackey, another team leader for the project, says the garden will act as the community’s “living room” by becoming a safe space to gather. The lot, which was once overgrown, has also been transformed from an eyesore to a solution.

About the Garden:

Mahathey assisted in the development of the leadership team that will manage the garden. She worked for nearly one year to find land central to the West End community, obtain it, clear it and prep it. Thanks to the neighborhood’s efforts, the property, which was overgrown and in bankruptcy, is now part of a pilot program with the City of High Point that allows West End Ministries to lease it for $1 per year, but turn ownership of managing the garden over to residents.

The garden will allow families to rent some plots of land for a low price, while others will be able to join in sharing and caring for the overall garden.

The Master Gardener program through the NC Cooperative Extension will offer master gardener courses to help community members develop strategies for maintaining the garden year-round.

The Bountiful Harvest Garden continues to see donors support its grand vision. Donations can be sent to the following address:

West End Ministries

PO Box 2163

High Point, NC 27261

Memo: Bountiful Harvest Community

Current benefactors to this project:

High Point University

City of High Point

West End Ministries

Duke Energy Foundation

Beeson Hardware

Eric Hill

Scott Tilley

High Point Community Against Violence

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