Edible Flint works to ensure healthy and successful urban food gardens
On March 1, “Growing Flint: What the Flint Water Crisis Means for Your Garden” program will discuss how the Flint water crisis may have affected the safety of food gardens, at the Neighborhood Engagement Hub.
Since its inception in 2009, edible flint has worked with individuals, community organizations and institutional partners to support Flint residents to grow and access healthy food – helping them reconnect with the land and each other. In response to the recent Flint water emergency, the organization plans to expand its programs in preparation for the upcoming gardening season. edible flint advocates growing food gardens in the city, but recognizes residents’ concerns due to Flint’s water contamination during the past two growing seasons. Supported by Michigan State University Extension and other valued community partners, edible flint works to make sure Flint residents have access to the information and resources needed to have healthy and successful food gardens in 2016.
In the upcoming 2016 growing season, edible flint will support Flint’s food gardeners through Garden Starters training classes, Kits and Services program, Food Garden tour, and additional educational programing specific to the Flint water crisis. On March 1, edible flint will sponsor an open house with educational sessions during a day-long program titled ‘Growing Flint: What the Flint Water Crisis Means for Your Garden’ where residents can learn about how the Flint water crisis may have affected the safety of their food gardens, at the Neighborhood Engagement Hub, a partner organization in Flint. Throughout the day the public will have the opportunity to visit interactive displays with topics including soils, nutrition, recycling, rain barrels, raised beds and garden tools. In addition to the displays, edible flint will host three presentations covering topics relevant to the Flint water crisis and food gardens: Soils at 9:30 a.m.; Vegetables at 12:30 p.m.; and Water in the Garden at 5:30 p.m. At 3 p.m., there will be an open forum where residents can talk to each other and to local experts about concerns they have about food gardening in Flint.
In addition, edible flint will be significantly increasing the number of soil tests it conducts for Flint’s food gardens (with support from local foundations and individual donations) in 2016, which have always included screening for lead. They will be providing irrigation hose-end filters for Flint program participants’ food gardens. The hose filters have been selected to specifically filter lead and other contaminants out of irrigation water. They have adjusted the selection of seeds and transplants being distributed this year to ensure that more vegetables that fight lead exposure are included. The veggie kits (designed to grow enough produce for a family of four) are expanded this year to contain 30 different vegetable seeds and transplants – 11 of which contain high levels of the lead fighting nutrients – calcium, iron and vitamin C.
Since 2009, edible flint has hosted seven annual Food Garden Tours; offered five years of training classes on urban food gardening; completed assessments of corner and convenience stores and existing grocery stores in the City of Flint in 2011 and 2012; and distributed over 1,500 Garden Starter veggie garden kits and related services (garden tilling, soil testing, compost delivery), supporting 826 food gardens in the city. edible flint believes that with proper urban soil management practices, the benefits associated with urban food gardening outweigh the risks posed by elevated soil lead levels, as is outlined in the Journal of Environmental Quality article titled ‘Lead in Urban Soils: A Real or Perceived Concern for Urban Agriculture’ published on January 11, 2016.