Urban farmers in Camden receive major grant from USDA

CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Residents of Camden, New Jersey will soon have more opportunities to create their own gardens or pick up fresh fruits and veggies. Resilient Roots Farm just got a big grant to grow its Urban Garden Program.

"It takes a lot of creativity to keep a small farm like this running. We have limited funds and have to make things go on a small budget," said Jon Compton, the executive director of the Center of Environmental Transformation.

And that budget just got a lot bigger. For the first time ever, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded a $300,000 grant to the Camden Urban Agriculture Collaborative which is made up of several organizations including this community garden.

"The purpose of this grant is to increase the strength of organizations to give resources to residents to grow their own food. There's already a strong history of growing food for residents in Camden," Compton said.

The money will create actual gardening hubs throughout the city where residents can learn about planting, and also get the supplies they need to plant in their own backyards or community gardens.

Virtua Hospital has also jumped on this partnership with urban farmers here in Camden to make sure everyone including their patients has access to healthy food.

"We're not only helping them build the skills to create produce right there on their property but really creating a sales channel, so we at Virtua Health can buy that produce and pass it along to our patients," said April Schetler, the assistant VP of community health engagement at Virtua Health.

It's a win-win partnership where many are reaping the benefits.

"Having access to good fruits and vegetables really improves your health and really gives everybody the access they deserve," Schetler said.
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