EGC works with residents to convert a portion of their yards into food gardens – a process EGC calls “agri-infill”. By bringing food gardens directly into residents’ yards, EGC fulfills its mission by:
- Increasing the density and availability of fresh produce to the hosting residents and the community at large;
- Reducing unproductive and often high water-usage landscapes;
- Educating residents and the neighborhood about food security issues, nutrition and public health, sustainability (water usage, composting, reduction of plastics and packaging via reduced demand for store-bought produce);
- Increasing physical activity for residents and EGC volunteers by encouraging time spent outdoors gardening;
- Building community and social bonds between Garden Stewards (hosting residents) and their community through the creation of volunteer teams who regularly work with the same Garden Steward sites; and
- Increasing community engagement and identity through neighborhood revitalization.
Within the Residential Gardens Program, EGC focuses on three distinct populations: community homeowners at large, aging-in-home seniors, and low-income residents. While EGC broadly provides the same services to these three populations, the approach is tailored as follows to best address the needs and resources of each group.
Residential Garden Projects:
Senior Garden Steward Project
Due to the rising housing costs, among other factors, an increasing number of seniors are choosing to age in-home rather than downsize out of their family homes. With age, caring for large gardens and yards gets increasingly difficult. Additionally, seniors often face isolation from the community due to reduced mobility. EGC’s goal in working with the senior population is to provide the services as described for general Garden Stewards, but with the regular provision of garden maintenance for EGC-managed areas by dedicated staff or assigned volunteers. This regular contact will help maintain seniors’ connection to the community, sense of contribution to the broader community good, and opportunity to build relationships with community members of varying ages and backgrounds. This will also ensure seniors have regular access to fresh produce, and an opportunity to participate in the gardening with the support of the volunteers. In EGC’s second development phase, EGC hopes to expand its Seniors program to include nursing homes and long-term care facilities to emphasize the relationship-building and mobility-maintenance aspects of the program.
Low-income Gardens Project- Pilot
With the high cost of housing in the Bay Area and other urban areas, many low-income residents find themselves struggling to afford housing, let alone a stable and nutritious food source. Food insecurity is a significant problem for many low-income residents, and cultivating their own food source is not a feasible option because of lack of time, available land/space, financial resources and/or knowledge necessary to set up and maintain a sufficiently productive garden. Additionally, children of low-income families often have less exposure to fresh produce and gardening, both of which research has shown improve children’s food selection preferences and health outcomes over time. EGC will serve low-income residents with design and installation of gardens (in-ground, raised bed and container, as space is available), both on an individual basis and, ideally, on a neighborhood basis so that larger-scale growing and greater diversity of produce can be immediately available to participating residents. All participants who qualify as low-income, using the guidelines set by court fee waivers and other local non-profit service providers, will receive services at no cost. Residents are welcome to consume as much of the produce as they would like, and pledge to donate any excess back to EGC so that it can be distributed to other community members in need.
Community Residents at Large
EGC works with community members regardless of income level to provide all of EGC’s above-described services. Hosting residents, called “Garden Stewards,” who do not meet low-income thresholds are responsible for the installation cost, though EGC may offset costs through receipt of in-kind donations of materials and professional services. In exchange, residents pledge to donate at least half of their harvests to EGC, who harvests and donates the produce to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley or directly to Second Harvest’s food distribution channels as needed (e.g. homeless and domestic violence shelters, adult community centers). Garden Stewards are responsible for all costs. EGC provides training in sustainable agricultural practices, maintenance troubleshooting as needed, and volunteer labor to assist with seasonal planting and harvest.
Interested in being a part of the residential gardens program? Contact email@example.com for more information!