Even before the pandemic and accompanying economic freefall, one in four Santa Barbara families struggled to put food on the table. With that figure certain to grow in the coming months and years, the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade has launched a new collaborative farming program called the Growing Community Project.
“We are in the midst of a food security crisis in the making,” said Brigade leader Abe Powell during the program’s groundbreaking at Trinity Gardens last week. “Our neighbors need our help.”
Building on the tradition of Victory Gardens planted during WWI and WWII to feed a hungry country taxed by war efforts, the Growing Community Project encourages home gardeners to cultivate and share fresh produce with residents in need. “Grow a little bit of extra squash, tomato, zucchini,” Powell asked. Volunteers will then pick up the overflow right off people’s front porches. “The time has come to go back to farming in this way.”
The Bucket Brigade is working with more than a dozen regional partners on the effort, including the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, UC Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County, Veggie Rescue, the Community Environmental Council, and others. For those without yard space of their own, there are still plenty of ways to get involved, Powell explained. The Project needs drivers and sorters as well as hands to work in the local community gardens that have signed on to help.
“We’re in a time of unprecedented crisis,” Powell said. “Only together can we get through the challenges like the one we’re facing right now.”
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