Imagine a vital food culture that ensures locally grown fruits and vegetables for every island resident, with special focus on those facing food insecurity and medical concerns.
Seeding Galveston, a nonprofit urban farm project co-founded by John Sessions and myself back in 2014, launched its 100 Kitchen Gardens project in October 2018 to address these very issues. Dozens of gardens were built over the next two years reaching a total to date of 92.
Working with volunteer teams from the community and also University of Texas Medical Branch students, we also installed gardens at community organizations like Resource & Crisis Center of Galveston County, Streetscape Ministries, St. Vincent’s, Osher Lifelong Learning Center and more. In one location, neighbors gathered for a co-op garden; meanwhile, gardens are to be built soon at the Little Red Box Grocery on 43rd Street.
COVID-19 didn’t slow the pace; it simply made the need for local healthy food sources more imperative.
We’re also looking forward to a project involving garden beds at the medical branch’s Family Medicine Clinic west. Doctors there look forward to incorporating the message of healthy eating for their patients.
A market garden at The House Farm was designed to grow vegetables for the family, as well as to sell at local markets. Two to five additional market farms are planned.
Finally, we’re about to collaborate with several restaurants and local grocers, building a triumvirate of grocers, market gardeners and Seeding Galveston’s own Wednesday farm stand market. We also collaborate with Island Aquaponics; the result is weekly crop boxes through the Galveston Farming Cooperative.
Not to be overlooked are Working Farm Suppers, which bring together Kitchen Gardeners, volunteers and foodies in general to munch on seasonally appropriate meals cooked by local chefs and participate in hands-on gardening classes. Currently on hold, they will be resumed as soon as safely possible.
John and I were particularly gratified when the Texas Medical Association Foundation awarded Seeding Galveston a second place John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award for 2020 on Jan. 30. None of this would be possible without a small army of volunteers and funders and community supporters and really good friends and neighbors. To view the presentation, visit https://youtu.be/2EZuL3lpaPY (our content is about halfway through).
Special kudos to the medical branch’s President’s Cabinet, whose funding in 2018 launched the Kitchen Garden project. The following year, the Moody Permanent Endowment Fund and the Kempner Fund provided funds for the Working Farm Suppers, as well as backup assistance for all the gardens. William Johnson, administrator for our local AgriLife office, gave thumbs up to a plan matching master gardeners with kitchen gardeners for extra assistance. Special thanks as well to Craig and Angela Brown and Victor and Michelle Sierpina.
To learn more about Seeding Galveston, visit www.seedinggalveston.com. For those intrigued with the idea of developing a market farm or inspired to make a donation or spend time volunteering, visiting the goats and chickens or just being on the farm stand market availability list, email us at [email protected]
Debbie Berger is a co-founder of Seeding Galveston, which is an urban farm project.