Environmental Justice Grant 2020
An EPA Environmental Justice small grant provided funds for the distribution of energy efficiency items and urban agriculture in low-wealth areas in Pulaski County in 2020. Despite the challenges of a pandemic, Ark. IPL saw:
In addition to community gardens, 30 new garden plots were installed or expanded for individual entrepreneur urban farmers; all 182 people associated with the Network of Growers received assistance with garden beds, bees, chickens, seeds, plants, compost.
- 400% Increase in Network of Growers from 43 to a total of 182 participants, 9 garden workdays, 231 fruit trees & fruit bushes planted
- 30 garden beds installed, 4 chicken coops installed, 3 bee hives installed, 1 greenhouse installed, 1 greenhouse repaired
- 362 pounds excess fresh food to community food pantries as of 2/15/2021. Additionally at several gardens, neighbors pick their own vegetables and collect their own eggs and take them home.
- 39 activities reaching 796 individuals intended to support self-sufficiency in the low-wealth communities.
- Distribution of 482 gift bags to food pantries and community centers
We developed 23 new partnerships with individuals and organizations that were not included in our project proposal.
1) New Africa Garden at Islamic Center for Human Excellence; broke ground for community garden in the Fall of 2020; expected to expand to multiple acres in the vicinity of a planned mosque for community; collaborating to make compost onsite to share with other gardens.
2) Azalea Neighborhood Garden in SW Little Rock; garden beds prepared, maintained; vegetables harvested; high interest in bee hives, two hive boxes ready for delivery in Spring 2021; attended chicken coop demonstration and built own chicken coop.
3) Military Veteran Gabryel’s Urban Garden on Arch St.; assisted with installing water lines; procured greenhouse parts; tested land for hazardous waste; leveled ground for large greenhouse; plans for showcase urban garden that will collaborate with the Village Place on Arch St. and other nearby gardens.
4) No Closed Door Youth Group working at the Promise Garden on 12th St.; greenhouse repaired; chicken coop removed; plans for canning demonstrations; soap-making demonstration set for March 2020; plans to reach out to nearby homeless community with health & hygiene kits.
5) OK Program with Little Rock Police Department and local pastors; at-risk youth learning to build garden beds from scrap cedar; established city program with liaison Rev. Malik Saafir at Philander Smith College.
6) Lauren Anderson and Randy DeWitt, beekeepers; plans for bee hive installations in Spring of 2021, including two hives for a military veteran and his family.
7) USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services; Field Office in North Little Rock; Troyce Barnet in Mountain View has high tunnels for urban farmers who apply.
8) Engine John from University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Small Engine Repair workshop leader; willing to lead future workshops and lend a hand with equipment repairs.
9) Arkansas Community Foundation providing funding for 3-4 part-time interns for January – July, 2021.
10) Kurtis Priebe, lead mentor providing leadership for multiple mentors who work with entrepreneur urban gardeners in the 12th St. to 18th St. area with more than 20 urban plots.
11) Woodruff Community Garden; Lee Bass is a mentor, garden leader, farm owner; plans to work with interns and mentors in 2021 to refurbish Woodruff Garden in urban Little Rock location.
12) College of Public Health at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; students are volunteers at garden workdays; students participating in extra credit program regarding connections between environmental health and community health; 1 student serving as an intern. A graduate student enrolled in Environmental and Occupational Health is collecting and analyzing soil samples from gardens as an Integrated Learning Experience that benefits our urban gardens.
13) Crump Garden, Dream Center, Hope Rises; community gardens now supported.
14) The Village Place – a community resource center in central Little Rock; representatives have attended chicken coop demonstrations and gardening workdays; they have plans for installations.
15) Caterpillar / Waste Management – renewed relationship to pick up used pallets and crates to repurpose as garden beds and chicken coops.
16) St. Joe’s Farm Center in North Little Rock – collaborated on sharing strawberry plants with gardeners.
17) North Little Rock Housing Authority – collaborative demonstrations of garden bed construction at Porter Cove low-income housing project; working with Fit2Live, Second Presbyterian Church, Over-the-Hill Gang (retired carpenters).
18) Habitat for Humanity – partnering to repurpose lumber for garden beds and chicken coops.
19) PATH – Physicians Against Trafficking Humans; collaborative demonstrations and instructions on building garden beds and growing healthy food.
20) Hillary Clinton Children’s Library – collaboration on education workdays in onsite greenhouse and starting new plants to share with gardens.
21) Seventh Day Adventists Food Pantry – demonstrated and provided a chicken coop so that fresh eggs may be shared.
22) Sam Kincannon’s Urban Garden on Jones St – un-named new community garden currently under installation.
23) Bree and Caleb’s new garden under a power line on Pat Cullivan’s property in Rose City area of North Little Rock; beginning farmers getting started; have used tractor provided through Network of Growers.
Despite the challenges of the 2020 pandemic, we reached our intended goals:
- Improved Diets, Reduced Carbon Emissions
- Enhanced Knowledge of Decreased Carbon Footprints Associated with Local Organic Urban Gardens vs. Industrial Farming Operations
- Increased Knowledge of Reduced Carbon Emissions Associated with Energy Conservation
- Increased Self-Sufficiency
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.