Flint, MI — With the prime gardening season just a few weeks away, The Latinx Technology and Community Center has partnered with Edible Flint to bring fresh, healthy and culturally relevant foods to members of the city’s Latinx community.
Kriss Beardslee, project coordinator and Americorp liaison for the center, believes having access to culturally relevant foods can have a positive impact on an individual’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
“The right foods can help relieve culture shock,” Beardslee said. “Having those culturally appropriate foods for people, it helps alleviate homesickness and makes them feel more welcome in the community. People that feel at ease and comfortable are more apt to be the best version of themselves.”
For her part, Jane Richardson, founder of Edible Flint, said it’s important to teach families how to take advantage of their yards or other open spaces and use them as places in which to garden. Growing your own produce and truly getting to be in control of what you eat, she said, is part of what makes her so adamant about making gardening a more common skill in Flint.
“I’m really passionate that other people be able to control and access healthy food and know how to grow it.”
In the early days of the pandemic, the tech center and Edible Flint had made plans similar to what they will be doing this year. Richardson had gotten in contact with nurseries and growers across Genesee county to get a hold of both seeds and pre-grown vegetables and herbs ready to be transplanted into a different garden.
Though the quarantine that followed the pandemic put a halt to Richardson’s and Beardlee’s plans in 2020, Richardson said the circumstances people found themselves in during that time may have been a catalyst for something good.
“Perhaps the lockdown was a blessing, perhaps uncertainty was a blessing, because people who had not tried or thought that they could grow their own food suddenly needed to and had the time to,” Richardson said.
In the year that’s passed, Richardson said Edible Flint was able to help many Flintstones learn how to garden and make the most of their spaces. Now with the new growing season here, Richardson wants to prepare the members of Flint’s Latinx community for a summer full of healthy eating.
According to her, the 50 boxes of culturally relevant food will feature 36 plant, seed, and herb varieties that will be distributed to families on Saturday, May 15 including:
- Cherry and roma tomatoes
- Sweet bell peppers
- Collard greens
Beardslee said she is eager to continue putting boxes like these together and expanding the spaces where residents can do their gardening. To her, distributing food and seeds is as much about keeping others fed and healthy as it is about teaching them skills that will allow them to further care for themselves in the future.
“I was born and raised here in Flint. I’ve seen it at its worst and I’ve seen it at its best…I want to help establish a community that cares, a community where people watch out for each other and care about each other and I think this is one of the many ways we can do that,” Beardslee said.