ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local nonprofit is going into the new year with a new mission: building gardens for community members in need. Food is Free Albuquerque is launching an accessible garden program this spring.
The project started as a favor in 2019, making a wheelchair-accessible garden for a friend’s cousin. It’s now inspiring them to make more accessible gardens — no matter the person’s limitations or situation — but they need funds to make them and people to build them for.
“This is one more way to connect fresh food to the members of our community,” said Erin Garrison, Executive Director of Food is Free Albuquerque.
Garrison started off building a single garden for a friend’s wheelchair-bound family member. He loved gardening, but multiple sclerosis took its toll and made it harder to maneuver his yard.
“We went in and we built him a raised bed and we widened his pathways so he would have access to his whole yard,” said Garrison. “He could not only grow tomatoes but grow relationships.”
She says the experience made her more aware of the community’s needs. She says gardening is a privilege that some don’t get to experience.
“It definitely opened my eyes that if I want to just go out and plant a garden, I can, but that’s a privilege,” said Garrison. “There’s a lot of people out there that just need somebody to reach out their hand and help them out a little bit.”
She says the next step is getting local businesses to help sponsor gardens by donating the funds. The donations of $500-700 will go toward supplies to build the garden.
“We’re asking for four local businesses and they donate the funds to be able to buy the supplies and materials that are needed,” said Garrison. “Then it’s a service day for them and their employees. We’ll arrange it and design the garden space and go out and do a community service day with their employees and our volunteers.”
So far, Trifecta Coffee Co. has signed on a sponsor. Garrison also held a community fundraiser that brought together enough money to build a garden.
FIFABQ is also in need of nominations for people to make these gardens for. They’re hoping to serve anyone who may need something like this in their life right now.
“It’s just nominating someone in your life that you think would benefit from a service such as this,” said Garrison. “Someone that is experiencing limitations that could use that extra community help.”
She says when they built that first garden in 2019, they immediately saw neighbors starting to share fresh food too. Some even planted their own gardens.
“Having fresh tomatoes is important, but it connects us to our food system. It connects us to our community and our neighbors,” said Garrison. “We saw neighborhood sharing and other neighbors starting to plant gardens and it’s a whole system and it closes the loop and it connects everybody.”