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  • --From Feet in 2 Worlds 2-part story "Callaloo and Collard Greens" produced by Manolia Charlotin and Ayinde Jean-Baptiste

    When Dr. Melony Samuels received an urgent call to help a family in need, she brought them a few boxes of groceries from her own pantry. The calls kept coming from all over the neighborhood. That’s how Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCHA) was founded–one family at a time. Now it’s Brooklyn’s largest food pantry, with Samuels as its executive director.

    Like many urban areas around the country, home to low-income black communities, the neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn have been labeled “food deserts.” Farmers markets are rare. Fears and misconceptions have kept farmers away, and many local residents are unfamiliar with alternatives to local grocery stores and bodegas.

    After the success of their first garden, BSCHA worked for many years to gain access to an empty lot at the corner of Fulton and Saratoga streets--just minutes from Brownsville and Crown Heights. They found a partner in the Mott Hall Middle School, situated across the street from the lot. Within months BSCAH's volunteer base--largely immigrants from various Caribbean islands--developed a production garden that yields enough vegetables to stock their food pantry that feeds 400 families a day, 30,000 people a month.

    BSCAH's Green Teen Leader, Jenae Joseph, walks us through the Saratoga garden. She is a college student who helps manage the gardens, the weekly farmers' market, and the teens who learn how to farm each summer.

    *****

    In Brownsville, Brenda Thompson Duchene was one of the residents who noticed the neighborhood lacked access to fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables. So she and her fellow members of the Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation transformed one of the local community gardens into a small production farm.

    Now, many families in Brownsville, whether they live in public housing across Livonia Avenue, or own 2-story houses that line the surrounding blocks, have their own plots of fresh vegetables in the Powell Street Garden. From that same garden, Duchene and volunteers stock the neighborhood's first weekly farmers market--just steps from the Junius Street 3-line subway entrance, and minutes away from neighboring East New York.
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