Bringing Gardens to the Food Desert

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A little over five years ago, Bill and the Bill Moyers Journal producers visited an urban community garden and farmers market in the East New York neighborhood of New York City. Take a look:

That year, one in nine American households reported having struggled to put food on the table. Those figures have since risen to one in seven.

At the same time, the poor quality of the processed food available in many “food deserts” — areas in which residents lack access to a local supermarket — contribute to high rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Today, lack of access to nutritious food continues to be a significant problem in both rural and urban areas across the country.

Food deserts across the country are highlighted in the USDA's interactive Food Access Research Atlas.

But farmers markets like the one we saw in East New York are becoming increasingly common in food deserts across the country. Today, over a hundred farmers markets in New York State — and over 2,000 markets across the country — allow customers to pay with cards from government nutrition assistance programs, like EBT and SNAP.

In recent years, the East New York Farm has more than doubled in size and supplies food to 7,000 customers each year.

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  • Ryan Keith Thompson

    Healthy food is a human right. Never should your skin color or socio-ecomonic status determine your quality of life. The Black Panther Party 10 Point Program was truly ahead of its time.

    All power to the people!

    Ryan K. Thompson MPH

  • Bill White

    Beautiful work urban farmers!

  • Larry Mestas

    Shows you what people can do.

  • Scott

    So instead of pushing food stamps, why aren’t we pushing urban farming?

  • Valerie Smith

    Thank you for this story.

  • John Simons

    Just wanted to comment that Bill Moyers has introduced subjects, people, and ideas that I would have never bothered to pay any attention to previously.

    Bill has an unassuming persona, yet manages to extract the maximum content that each episode can deliver.

    I am very grateful to PBS for it’s ability to keep its integrity intact, and provide outstanding shows (Nova, Nature, Frontline,….) over the past years.

    Again, thank you Bill for your incredible interview skills.

  • John Simons

    Just wanted to add that farming is one of the most honest and hardworking professions out there.

    Introducing farming to the metro crowd is a natural step in “grow your own”.

    John Simons@Johns1Simons1 — Twitter

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  • Arianna

    We’re in our 2nd year and 3rd season on a deserted lot in north St. Louis. A lot no one wanted in a neighborhood no one wanted to be in. Now, it’s a haven for children, elders, and unemployed (they work the garden) in the community. Oh, yeah, it took a couple crazy pale folks to go in and teach what they’d not had time to learn, but the rest, is all theirs!