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Reflections on Food Sovereignty: Valley Verde's response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

"The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our community in unprecedented ways. Many people have lost their jobs, children have been unable to attend school, parents lack childcare, stores are facing shortages on essential goods, and it is no longer safe to be out in public without fear of contracting the disease. The end of the pandemic is not yet in sight. The financial, emotional, physical, and mental toll has been significant on us all, but especially on our communities’ most vulnerable members. Latino and Black communities have been hit hard by the disease and the elderly and un-housed populations are at high risk. Residents who lack legal status do not have access to healthcare and food banks have seen a sharp rise in the need for food assistance.

In response, Valley Verde has mobilized to provide access to fresh organic produce and online organic gardening education. The community has been eager to serve and collaborate with us and we have seen a record number of volunteers get involved (181 and counting). Local farms have donated seedlings, the Bicycle Coalition sent dozens of bikers into the community to deliver seedlings to more than 1500 low-income families, and others have given small financial donations to assist us in our work.

Food sovereignty is critical in these uncertain times as evidenced by a surge in “victory gardens” reminiscent of the world war era. Research reveals that gardening, especially community gardening, can improve mental, physical, and social health. It has been life-giving to be part of the work at Valley Verde. My family has also benefited from our garden as my husband lost his job due to the pandemic. We need hope during this time, and gardens are a beautiful reminder that a small seed can transform into a source of nourishment for families and communities".

Rachelle Harding, Home Garden Program Manager

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