Grow Roots Miami Aims to Transform Food Deserts into Thriving Urban Gardens

Jorge Palacios, founder of Plant Philosophy and one of the main collaborators in the Grow Roots program, with Christina Bouza.EXPAND
Jorge Palacios, founder of Plant Philosophy and one of the main collaborators in the Grow Roots program, with Christina Bouza.
Photo by Brett Vaughn
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Driven to raise public awareness of systemic racial injustice, disproportionate disparities in the food system, and COVID deaths experienced by the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community in Miami, a seed was planted that became Grow Roots Miami.

The self-described QTBIPOC-led collaboration between Finca Morada, Plant Philosophy, and Urban Oasis Project was formed to create free food-producing gardens for Miami families currently living in food deserts. (Other organizations involved in the effort: Miami Compost Project, Miami Seed Share, Overtown Green Haven Community Garden, Urban Green Works, and the Little River Cooperative.)

“All of us involved in this project have been in food-justice work for many years," says Grow Roots Miami founder Christina Bouza. "In 2020, we have been working harder than ever, responding to the pressing needs in our Miami community that the pandemic made dramatically more severe.”

Amid the pandemic, the organization is focused on serving Miami's most vulnerable residents through community gardens, compost projects, and food distribution.

“We know firsthand that food justice is racial justice. With our Grow Roots initiative, we are growing solutions from the root of where these injustices hit home,” Bouza says.

Bouza says that Grow Roots Miami's work serves to fight “generations of oppression of Black, indigenous, people of color, queer and trans people."

Long-term, Grow Roots Miami plans is to help people grow their own food — a challenge on many fronts, beginning with Miami’s sandy soil. That's why the group provides compost from Finca Morada and Miami Compost, as well as a soil blend developed by local farmers, to guarantee bountiful crops.

"Growing our own food is community care, it's liberation, it's revolution, it’s our protests put into tangible, healthy action," Bouza says.

Over the summer, Grow Roots will be installing perennial food forest gardens and hosting free educational workshops to grow community connections and mentor young growers. Then, in October, they'll plant raised-bed gardens to take advantage of South Florida's fall/winter growing season.

The initial goal is to build 25 free food-producing home gardens. To grow beyond that, the group will need funding from the community and local leaders.

Their sales pitch?

“The Grow Roots Miami program is for the well-being of the people of Miami and is a holistic and tangible solution in direct response to COVID-19 and to systemic racial injustice,” Bouza says, adding, “Grow Roots Miami also creates jobs for local farmers.”

In its work, the organization is supporting and mentoring young farmers and growers and fostering collaborations with small urban-agriculture organizations and businesses.

In Bouza's view, after all, “There's an infinite demand for gardens that contribute to racial justice and produce healthy food, beauty, healing, learning opportunities, habitat, and abundant benefits for our environment."

Learn more about Grow Roots Miami and how you can support, donate, or volunteer at growrootsmiami.org.

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