STORY: Resurrection Comes in Green

West Coconut Grove is smack dab in the middle of Miami, and it’s some of the lushest land in the city. Native residents talk about how “back in the day” they could walk through the neighborhood snacking on fruit from the many fruit trees scattered around. From coconuts to mangoes to avocados, limes, and papayas…you name it, it grew here.

It seems fitting, then, that West Coconut Grove is inhabited by a people whose roots are found in farming. Whether it's farming on the islands (Jamaica or the Bahamas) or in rural Georgia, most people in the neighborhood can trace their roots back to a farming culture. But the skill of farming has been largely lost in the generations removed from the experience of migration.

Four years ago the Carter Street Block Club, an initiative of Urban Resurrection (InnerCHANGE Miami), determined that they wanted to tap back into those farming roots—they wanted to grow gardens on their street. Since then the people have grown more and more interested in gardening. They've begun to not only show an interest in planting gardens, but also in developing healthier eating habits. In the midst of this growing interest, a local organization decided to help residents plant edible gardens. They proposed a starter project where six West Coconut Grove neighbors would be given a garden—raised bed, soil, plants, and all—in their own yard to help start and encourage the trend.

When the neighbors were surveyed to see whether there was enough interest to even move forward with such a project, the response was overwhelming—there were more interested neighbors than gardens to go around! After narrowing down the garden recipients, Slow Food Miami called in Ready-To-Grow Gardens to install each neighbor’s new 32 square foot raised garden bed.

On Saturday November 5th 2011, each new gardening neighbor crowded into my backyard to learn and plant. I could see the excitement on their faces as they eagerly anticipated being able to grow, and eat, their own food. As they share their gardening experiences and the food they grow, these new "farmers" will foster healthier living and fruitful community that will change their neighborhood for years to come.

Kristy Wallace
InnerCHANGE Miami
Miami, FL