Homewood Community Garden gives residents access to fresh produce amid rising food prices

At the intersection of Susquehanna Street and North Brushton Avenue in Homewood, the Sankofa Community Garden features bright garden beds that decorate the space and a variety of vegetables, including peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers.

Sankofa’s owner, Vikki Jones, sits in the center of the lot surrounded by his grandchildren and gardening volunteers. Jones has made her garden not only an important part of Homewood, but also her own family.

I have two students who have been with me for years 2 and 3. We have two new students who are very enthusiastic. I have a grandson and an intern who instilled in my family the importance of this,” Jones said. “So when no one else is here, we are here.”

She describes the garden’s mission and cooperativeness. With food prices skyrocketing due to disruptions in her global supply chain and the lingering impact of her COVID-19 pandemic, Jones said Sankofa has become even more important to the neighborhood. The predominantly black community of Pittsburgh has been severely affected by food insecurity in recent years.

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Ebony Rice Nguyen


90.5 Wesa

Capricia Williams, a gardening intern at Pennsylvania State University, poses with Jones’ grandchildren and other gardening assistants.

The garden has been part of the Homewood community since Jones founded it in 2015. The facility provides members of the community with fresh produce and teaches youth programs that focus on self-sufficiency and food justice. In recent years, it has also offered bicycle rentals and a garden for children with autism.

Sankofa Gardens became even more important to the community when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The garden, which has been self-sufficient for years, was able to distribute fresh produce to Homewood residents while following social distancing protocols.

According to reports, this produce was very important to Homewood. Land Co., Ltd. I am studying two black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Food insecurity is nothing new to Homewood, as communities have faced food injustice for decades. Tamara Dubowitz, senior policy researcher at RAND, says food insecurity points to a larger problem at hand.

“Housing, transportation, employment, income, and education issues are different for black Americans than they are for white Americans,” Dubowitz said. “It’s all related to access to resources. And this is exactly what food insecurity is all about.”

Homewood has been without a grocery store for over 40 years, and there are very few local stores offering fresh produce. At the same time, many residents do not have access to transportation to move out of the area in search of food.

To address these racial disparities, Dibowitz emphasized the importance of using appropriate language.

“Food apartheid is the language really being pushed by the leaders of food justice, a reminder that these neighborhoods without access to healthy food were not created by nature. It was created by ,” said Dubowitz.

At The Garden, Vicky Jones makes the topic of food injustice and food insecurity an important part of the educational programme.

“Systemic racism is alive and well in the food system, and it’s an uphill battle, but one we consciously participate in and win,” Jones said.

Recent inflation has made fighting food insecurity even more difficult for Homewood residents. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticsprices of vegetables and fruits rose 8.1%, making it harder to get access to small amounts of produce, according to The Washington Post. Bananas went from $10 to $12.30 per case in just two weeksCosts are rising as many food aid programs end COVID-19 benefits.

Inflation and a pandemic have really made us realize that our communities need food aid in a constant and calculated effort, not just SNAP. No, or there are some food stamps here.

At The Garden, many of the programs taught by volunteers and Jones focus on community solutions that deliver long-term results. Capricia Williams, a garden intern at Pennsylvania State University, distributes gardening tools to neighbors, teaches gardening classes, and takes Sankofa’s produce to local farmers’ markets. She said she enjoys it.

“We are committed to providing fresh produce, teaching community members how to grow their own food, providing resources such as soil, seeds and supplies, and making a real contribution, especially after the onset of COVID. , I believe is really helping with food insecurity.-19,” Williams said.

The garden is also a place to learn about black history not defined by slavery.

We need to redefine black history on this property, and we need to give young people a wealth of information about black inventors and black philanthropists,” Jones said.

As the garden continues to grow, Jones is happy to be a bright spot in his community.

Seeing so many abandoned buildings is very depressing. I am very disappointed,” Jones said. “But when I pass by and see a garden full of life, I take a deep breath and say things aren’t as bad as they thought.”

The gardens also host the Homewood Farmers Market every Saturday from 10am to 2pm.

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