By Anna Gilbert-Muhammad, NOFA/Mass Food Access Coordinator
Each year of the garden at Tapley Court Apartments (Home City Housing, HCH) has been significant in the amount and variety of vegetables grown. This year, with a growing worldwide pandemic, the garden at the Tapley Court Apartments has become more meaningful and is critical for the families and youth of the housing development. During the summer and fall, youth leaders have had critical conversations around what it means to grow food in the age of COVID-19, and their feelings about food insecurity in their community.
Brian Medina, a third-year youth leader/gardener at the Tapley Court Apartments, garden expressed how much it touched him to be able to provide food to local families. He said, “It really touches my heart to be able to feed my neighbors. I feel like I am making an impact.” During harvest time this past Tuesday, Brian was asked if he wanted to take home his share of the harvest. “No, let the people eat first–I’ll get mine after they get a chance.” Brian’s response was really moving and showed his growth and understanding of what it means to grow food, beyond just planting a garden.
Another part of harvest time at Tapley Garden incorporates what to actually do with the food that is grown on site. Wednesdays are devoted to small, quick, cooking demonstrations that focus on foods that come from the garden. The demonstrations also focus on favorite meals that the youth like, but are cooked with a healthier twist. The classes that have taken place are:
- Making Fresh Ramen (with fresh vegetables, rice noodles and fresh vegetarian broth)
- Making Your Own Grinders
- Butternut Squash Muffins (with butternut squash from the garden)
Along with the cooking classes, food preservation demonstrations have also been taking place. Youth leaders have canned fresh salsa with the tomatoes, peppers and onions from the garden. They have dehydrated fruits (the all-time favorite of the group is the apple and banana chips), and have created herbal remedies using basil, thyme and ginger.
The classes are recorded and the cooking demonstrations have been streamed live on Facebook in order to include the greater Home City Housing Community. Take a look at this clip from the Butternut Squash Muffin class: http://fb.watch/1iHP7QWNxq/
Tapley Court Garden has turned into more than a Community Garden. It is serving, in this difficult time, as a means of providing the families with fresh food, building community and giving a great sense of self-determination for the youth leaders.