Donate, Elevate 2022: Urban Farming in Food Deserts
Donate, Elevate, Online Optimism’s donation matching program, is one way we uphold our value to better the community. This policy states that when Optimists donate to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Online Optimism will 100% match that donation to the non-profit. In addition, Online Optimism will match the donation to a non-profit we’ve chosen to support through the year. This program encourages our employees to become more involved in their communities both on and off the clock.
For Donate, Elevate 2022 Online Optimism has focused on urban farming. Urban farming is important to food desert communities because it creates economic opportunities, engages communities, and increases access to healthy food. We have chosen four incredible urban farming-focused non-profit organizations to donate to this year, all of which are in and around our communities.
Sprout NOLA is a non-profit organization based in New Orleans. Their goal is to “work towards a better food system by making farming accessible to everyone—that means anyone who wants to farm as a hobby, career, or anywhere in between.” Their initiatives involve supporting their community in several different ways: farmer training, technical assistance and coalitions, community gardening and food sovereignty, and advocating for equitable policy change.
You can support Sprout NOLA by donating, volunteering for their programs, and by community gardening! You can find more information on the volunteer opportunities, events, and classes hosted by SPROUT NOLA here.
Truly living Well
Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TWL) is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization “committed to bringing good food, good health and well-being to Atlanta’s urban community.” TWL focuses on the health and wellness of the Atlanta community and achieves its mission through programs that involve education, providing nutritious food, job creation, and agriculture training.
Support Truly Living Well by donating to their programs and volunteering individually or as a group! You can find more information about Truly Living Well’s volunteer opportunities and register for them here.
Dreaming Out Loud, INC.
Dreaming Out Loud is a non-profit organization located in Washington, DC. Their mission is to create economic opportunities for the DC metro region’s marginalized communities through building a healthy, equitable food system. They believe that every individual should have access to fresh and healthy food and view the food system as a way to build community wealth. Dreaming Out Loud understands the vital role of the food system in sustaining the health of individuals living in marginalized communities.
You can support Dreaming Out Loud by donating, volunteering to join their advocacy efforts, engaging in their Farm & Food Hub program, and by subscribing to their CSA which delivers farm fresh food throughout DC. You can find all of their volunteer opportunities here.
The Urban garden initiative
The Urban Garden Initiative is a national non-profit organization whose mission is “to inspire and empower youth to achieve urban sustainability through a gardening-based educational program.”
The organization achieves this mission with a year-long environmental education program and provides youth with the opportunity to engage in urban gardening in both the fall season and springtime. TUGI partners and coordinates with schools nationwide to implement their environmental education program into the curriculum.
You can support and donate to TUGI by going to the volunteer page of their website. 100% of all donations go toward purchasing urban gardening kits for the students. TUGI offers both remote and in-person volunteer opportunities. You can find more information and apply for TUGI volunteer opportunities here.
Urban farming has many environmental, economic and social benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Urban farming can engage communities, cut transportation costs, reduce rainfall runoff, lead to better air quality, and more—making it an essential practice for any community, especially those who suffer from food insecurity. Organizations like Sprout NOLA, Truly Living Well, Dreaming Out Loud, and The Urban Garden Initiative do the necessary hard work required to reap these benefits. Although each organization’s mission is unique, all four share one common goal: sustain a healthy and happy community. Through donations, volunteering, and learning, we too can do our part to contribute to this mission.