EPA Grant Report


Environmental Justice Grant October 2017 – August 2018

Working with partners, Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light supported numerous community gardens, installed raised wicking beds for vegetables, installed backyard gardens in low-income neighborhoods, built a network of growers who shared fresh local food with low-income neighbors, delivered fresh food to food pantries, held education sessions, stocked the community center at one community garden, installed little lending libraries at community gardens, made presentations to community groups, added a chicken coop at one school garden, hosted a Guardians of the Planet student club at an elementary school, and distributed energy efficiency items to low-income neighbors.

Our collaborative work with partnerships developed during the grant period will continue. Community garden work days are scheduled and will be held regularly. Energy efficient items will be distributed at garden days and other events. People in the network of growers will continue to share seed, plants, chickens, bees, and garden work with each other and their neighbors.  The relationships developed in this grant will help people get food from their own backyard and from each other. They will continue to reduce their energy consumption.

Details

  • 307 pounds of donated fresh food, including eggs, peppers, okra, greens, onions, squash, cucumbers, spinach
  • 101 fresh food donation deliveries were made by growers, including the Common Roots Cooperative, Sprout Urban Farms, Center Street Urban Farm, St. Joseph’s Urban Farm, Crump Community Garden
  • Deliveries to food pantries: 12th St. Clinic, Grace Presbyterian Church, Harmony Health & Wellness Clinic, Hope Rises, El Zocalo Garden, The Van, Trojan Food Pantry at University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Recipients of fresh food were food pantries plus individuals in the neighborhoods surrounding community gardens
  • Community Gardens supported: Pulaski Heights Middle School, Stephens, Mabelvale Middle School, Felder Farm, Woodruff Garden, OakForest Garden, Ark. Children’s Hospital Garden, Ferncliff, Hope Rises, The Field
  • Seeds, plants, fig starts, soil, bees, fruit trees, garden tools, garden gloves were donated by Ark. IPL and growers to recipients, including Dunbar Junior High Community Garden, El Zacola Community Garden, Promise Garden, and Mabelvale Middle School
  • 10 community garden days at the Promise Garden (one was rained out), held in cooperation with the Team of Neighbors of Love in the 12th St. Corridor; each was attended by 12 to 32 neighbors, depending on the weather
  • 10 education sessions were held on a variety of topics: do-it-yourself solar, composting, canning, do-it-yourself organic fertilizer, greenhouse gardening, permaculture
  • Additional community garden days at OakForest Garden, which became weekly by mid-summer of 2018
  • 43 participants and locations are now part of the newly established Network of Growers Approximately half of the growers are young, elderly, or inexperienced.  Now they are all more experienced, and they all have more people to call on for advice and resources.  This network of relationships is what will sustain the work.
  • Network of Growers participants are African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Indian (not Native American)
  • Network of Growers locations are in Little Rock, Sherwood, Rose City, Mabelvale, Ferndale
  • Assistance with  neglected greenhouses at Mabelvale Middle School and at Oakforest Community Garden. These two greenhouses were put back into production and educational use. Plant starts from the greenhouses were shared with the network of growers.
  • 12 new vegetable garden beds at Mabelvale Middle School
  • 6 new raised wicking beds at Stephens Garden
  • Completed greenhouse at Promise Garden
  • Assistance with building new raised beds at Pulaski Heights Middle School Garden from repurposed wood sources
  • Added 26 raised beds at OakForest Garden so that elderly and disabled neighbors may participate without stooping
  • In-ground beds at OakForest Garden
  • Soil, plants, greenhouse improvements, amendments at OakForest Garden
  • Organic garden tower was donated to Hope Rises, where a community garden serves women recently released from incarceration. Hope Rises also has an organic food catering business. Hope Rises catered the lunch at one of our community garden days at the Promise Garden.
  • New refrigerator at the Community Center at the Promise Garden for temporary storage of excess fresh food and to preserve food over the winter
  • Two additional water hoses at the Promise Garden
  • New shelving at the Community Center to hold energy efficiency items
  • New kitchenware at Community Center for cooking and serving community meals from the garden
  • Little lending libraries installed at Promise Garden, OakForest Garden, Stephens Garden, Pulaski Heights Middle School Garden
  • 13 new backyard gardens for 1) Kenneth, 2) Liz, 3) Jimmy, 4) Sarah, 5) Ben, 6) Michael & Stacy, 7) Anthony, 8) Prophula, 9) Glenn, 10) Quay’Shaun & Theo and their mother Mrs. Allen, 11) Shannon, 12) Ola, 13) Meaghan
  • 7 improved backyard gardens for  neighbors: 1) Annie, 2) Annette, 3) Patrick & Kent & Houston, 4) Mina, 5) Linda, 6) Carla, 7) Kurtis
  • Added bee hives to six backyard gardens for neighbors and growers: 1)  Glenn, 2) Mina, 3) Linda, 4)Kurtis, 5)Nathanael, 6) Patrick
  • Collected 3 bee swarms from the Woodruff Community Garden that were shared with growers
  • Two chicken coops with 3 chickens each at backyard gardens for neighbors (Sara, Anthony)
  • New chicken coop with 4 chickens and a rooster at Mabelvale School
  • Additional compost bins at the Promise Garden and OakForest Garden
  • Refreshments were served on community garden days, focusing on using fresh local food to the extent possible
  • LED bulbs, power strips, socket sealers, energy efficiency booklets were distributed at Stephens Elementary School, 12th St. Clinic, Grace Presbyterian Food Pantry
  • A Girl Scout Troop, Vacation Bible School children, and Presbyterian youth groups participated in the distribution of energy efficiency items and garden days
  • Presentations on energy efficiency and renewable energy were offered in Little Rock, Jonesboro, Mountain Home, Conway

Continuing Efforts

  • Eight activities with Girls Scouts are planned for October 2018 through March 2019, regarding energy efficiency and organic gardening; more are expected to be scheduled.
  • On Oct. 8, a Daisy Scout troop will decorate and assemble gift bags with energy efficiency items that will go to the 12th St. Clinic Food Pantry.  The girls will earn 2 “badges” with this event, the Community Service patch and Make the World a Better Place petal. This activity will be repeated around the state to distribute energy efficiency items in low-income areas.
  • Community garden days continue: Sept. 1 & 8 at OakForest Garden; Sept. 29 at Promise Garden; and on-going.
  • Ark. IPL plans to launch a Small Bite Advocacy campaign in 2019 to continue a community emphasis on fresh, local food (less meat)
  • Energy efficiency distributions are planned in conjunction with Martin Luther King Day, Earth Day, a Mission Outreach Day at a Lutheran Church; more are expected to be scheduled.
  • Ark. IPL will continue to support a student Recycling Club at Stephens Elementary School and serve on an advisory board at the school.
  • Two additional churches are interested in community gardens in Little Rock and North Little Rock.
  • Ark. IPL is supporting University of Central Arkansas students enrolled in an Environmental Health class with service learning projects related to energy efficiency and local organic gardening.
  • Ark. IPL has tentative plans for a book study on “Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body, and Ultimately Save Our World.” We are giving away one copy as a door prize on Sept. 17 when we present a documentary.
  • “Happening: A Clean Energy Future” will be presented to the community on September 17 and to a class at the University of Central Arkansas on November 6. Additional presentations are expected to be scheduled.
  • Ark. IPL will collaborate with Citizens Climate Lobby to present energy efficiency programs at 12 houses of worship in 2019; we will encourage congregations to use the carbon calculator on the IPL site and dividend calculator on the CCL site.

Matching Funds

Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light was obligated to spend $8,000 in matching funds on this project but actually spent ($9,300.

Some of Our Growers (examples)

Kenneth and his wife live on a sunny corner lot next to the University Hospital from which they rent their modest house.  We met them through one of our neighbors at the Promise Garden.  They helped at several garden workdays there and asked for help with the garden they wanted to start at their house.  We shared our tillers, gave them seeds, plants and some soil amendments.  For a family event, we gave them a picnic table from the Promise Garden.  They have one of the prettiest gardens and donated greens and other produce to neighbors.

Steve is a professor who operates the garden at a local university used to encourage students to garden.  We met him through our connection with the OakForest Community Garden which is part of the University Development District.  We shared greenhouse space, seeds, tillers, re-purposed lumber, and re-purposed ground cover to help them build raised beds and storage space for their tools.  They had a big productive garden this year. They shared plants, vegetables, and expertise with our growers.  At a Promise Garden workday, we canned hot peppers from this garden.  We also worked together to support the revitalization of the OakForest Community Garden nearby.

Ola is an active gardener in her 90’s.  She needs help occasionally.  Anthony’s mother (another grower) asked if we could build a raised bed garden so she wouldn’t have to bend over as much.  We built her bed and filled it with soil.  We transplanted some of her plants into this bed and gave her more plants.  We also replaced her leaky worn out water hose with a new one.

Community Center (example)

At the end of the grant period, participants in the Network of Growers gathered to preserve peppers from the gardens.

At the end of the grant period, we stocked shelves with unused energy efficiency items, small tools, garden gloves for continuing projects.