For organizers and volunteers of Grow Baton Rouge, the fight against food deserts in North Baton Rouge is beyond the “last mile” of getting fruits and vegetables to the community.
“We are committed to resolving this major problem, not only through our gardens, urban farms, and mobile markets but through an upcoming wave of innovative efforts and initiatives that will definitely have a great positive impact of NBR and the city as a whole,”said Jasiri Basel, executive director of THE CEO MIND Foundation.
Innovative has been the perfect word to describe the ongoing presence of THE CEO MIND Foundation and its Grow Baton Rouge throughout the city. Since 2017, the group has established 11 gardens and two urban farms, launched three “Fresh Cube” mobile market vehicles, and a bus called “The Desert Destroyer.”
It also houses science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics initiatives and programs ranging from a mobile innovation lab called “The Transformer” and Grill & Connect to a high-tech Youth Empowerment Zone at the MLK Community Center on Gus Young Ave. They also host Girls EmPOWERed, Womanhood 101, and Manhood 101 forums.
Through the Grow Baton Rouge initiative, the foundation expands its mission into agriculture by providing seeds, launching community gardens in neighborhoods around the city of Baton Rouge, and giving 300 residents the knowledge and tools to begin growing at home.
According to Basel, Grow Baton Rouge has a model that encompasses the full supply chain and logistics that involves area farmers, businesses, ag specialists, and certified growers–for starters.
“It’s critical for communities to be able to feed themselves through sustainable farming. It not only aids overall but it’s critical for health and wellness. North Baton Rouge contains many miles, areas, and neighborhoods with food deserts and swamps,” said Basel.
“We believe that as long as a community has land to grow food, that no one deserves to or should go hungry,” he said.
Grow Baton Rouge hosts Market Days weekly at different locations. Visit the website, www.growbatonrouge.com, for times and locations.
By Candace J. Semien