Kim Perry has a brainstorm. Though she has been involved in the Healthy Habits Coop for some time, she and a number of volunteers have decided to take the CSA (or community supported agriculture) model used by Urban Harvest and others and give it a serious twist. The Backyard Garden Growers Project endeavors to use unproductive space in the back yards of Houston homeowners to create a cooperative network of gardens. In exchange for a dedicated space in a backyard or unused part of private property, Perry and her corps of volunteers will install a permanent garden, including structure, soil and seeds. The property owner commits to tending the garden for one year, helping to install one other backyard garden and sharing their own harvest with other coop participants. In exchange for this commitment, they get the permanent garden installation and help with soil and pest control. And best of all, they get to share in the harvest of other backyard growers. Like the traditional CSAs, the Backyard Garden Growers Project will have other shareholders who support the coop financially but do not participate in the growing.
This is such a wonderful and progressive idea—to utilize the often spacious, yet unutilized back yards of Houston to provide produce for communities and families. At a time when the entire country is focusing on obesity and the reality of food deserts, the Backyard Garden Growers Project and it’s non-profit partner Healthy Habits Coop are dedicated to promoting the growth of sustainable, local food solutions and supporting the development of local and organic food purchasing cooperatives. Perry says she realized that not everyone can or wants to trudge to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday in order to buy locally grown produce. Farmer’s Markets can be time consuming and expensive. And she’s found that people have a desire to grow their own, but need the support of experienced gardeners to make it happen. So far she has 140 families who are interested in participating.
Even for families who are not yet green thumbs, the experience can yield more than just a gorgeous crop of fresh produce. Perry endeavors to teach the whole family how to grow, with children learning about the source of the food they eat. It’s a great way, she says, for connecting children with the land and healthy ways of eating.
I had the pleasure of receiving a perfect yellow heirloom tomato from Kim’s garden. It was not only a beauty to behold, it was delicious.(See slide show) She also shared with me a gorgeous small watermelon that is almost too lovely to consume. (So I am saving it for Father’s Day!) These gifts are clearly the results of a woman gardener who knows what she is doing! When you commit to a garden in your yard, Perry consults with you about what is best to grow in your location. She establishes the right soil (which is no small feat if you are a novice) and she remains available to help new gardeners with potential problems. All of this is available at no cost to the homeowner.
The Backyard Garden Growers Project is currently raising funds to start 8 new gardens. Their Kickstarter campaign is HERE.
If you believe in the value of community endeavor—in educating children and entire families about healthy eating and the source of wholesome foods, and in an effort that transforms unproductive land into nutritional bounty for entire communities, then give to The Backyard Garden Growers Project.
I am happy to have met Kim Perry, a passionate and talented visionary who, I think, is onto something BIG!