The Faith Community Coalition, in conjunction with Logos Faith Development LLC sponsor three community gardens in the South LA area. The USDA defines a “food desert” as an area that has limited access to affordable and healthy food. There are many food deserts within the South LA area, as well as a wide variety of organizations that work to mitigate the problem of food insecurity in various ways.
“St. Mark UMC was an ideal candidate as a pilot site for our program because the church already participates in mitigating food insecurity by distributing food to their community and has a leader, Pastor Williams, who understands the correlation between food accessibility and health disparity,” said Oliver. “We envision this garden being a wonderful opportunity to nourish the community with food, love, care, and concern for the whole person.”
The pandemic magnified the issue of food insecurity. When we first started this project, one goal was to play an active role in providing fresh produce to the surrounding community. One way of creating access is by giving organizations and churches the tools to sustainably grow and produce healthy food options that can be distributed to their surrounding communities. The Meditation and Produce Garden will indeed serve that purpose. However, through collaborative efforts and the assistance of Jamiah Hargins of Crop Swap LA, we have created a sacred space that we hope will hopefully be a holistic benefit (mind, body, and spirit) to all those who encounter this initiative. Though produce will vary, depending on the season, currently we have planted lettuce, beets, tomatoes, mustard greens, and a variety of herbs, to name a few.
“With the lack supermarkets and access to fresh produce, African-Americans are experiencing disproportionately higher rates of diagnosis and death from diet-related chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension that I’ve seen that in my congregation and in my own family,” said Rev. Williams. “There are over 2 million residents in Los Angeles County who are food insecure, therefore, food justice needs to be a priority in our churches, and I realized we had the beginnings of what could become a model for churches to establish gardens and farmers markets on church-owned land. Black churches are uniquely positioned to use their land to address the injustices associated with food insecurity in our community.”
The Faith Community Coalition is aware of the long-term effects of South LA being a food desert and welcomed the opportunity to fund the program to assist some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
“I watched as supermarkets in South Los Angeles burned during the 1992 civil unrest, which created food deserts for black and brown people,” said Pastor John Cager, Founder of the Faith Community Coalition. “These grants will provide access to fresh, healthy options for BIPOC.”
The garden program is a part of FCC’s Health and Wellness platform, utilizing the Coalition’s focus on building transformational relationships in order to tackle complex issues (i.e., food insecurity, poverty, housing) in our community.
“I am incredibly pleased that LOGOS can underwrite the coalition’s work in the area of community gardens said Martin Porter, Managing Partner of LOGOS. “It’s our intention to take targeted action that maximizes social impact and the opportunity for people to both live in the Kingdom of God and to build it up. I can think of no better way to do this than community gardens that cause us to eat better, garden in community, get off our phones and screens, and into the soil together.”
St. Mark’s UMC community is on track to open Late Summer 2021.