The Green Haven Project aims to reduce food deserts in South Florida

Posted at 4:25 PM, Jun 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 16:32:37-04

In South Florida there are hundreds of food deserts, communities where families are forced to eat what is readily available. Nonprofits like the Green Haven Project, are working to change that by helping create healthier lifestyles.

Celina Hishahak is a volunteer at the Green Haven Project garden in Overtown.

The vegetables Celina is picking from the ground are free for Overtown residents. She said the area is considered a food desert, where the closest supermarket is at least a mile away. In South Florida, there are over 300 food deserts.

"There’s not access to a lot of healthy and organic foods but there is access to a lot of junk foods," said Hishahak.

The goal is to serve fresh food in underserved communities and teach families, especially kids, a farm-to-table concept.

"They don’t know that you can grow collard greens, kale or tomatoes in a space like this or even in your own backyard. So it’s fun to see everyone’s reactions to things that grow here," said Hishahak.

"We definitely need this. There’s a lot of low-income communities and with all of these high rises behind us, they’re able to afford food but there’s a lot of people who are stuck in the between zones who don’t have that same ability," said Kyara World, volunteer.

"We educate people on how to create their own gardens with a little space or backyards that they have," said David Roper, president of the Green Haven Project.

Roper said people should have control over their health and it all starts in the kitchen.

To help spread awareness, Roper is partnering with the local restaurant Red Rooster to promote healthy eating. He believes providing good nutrition can help set at-risk youth up for a successful future.

"With the main chef, we will begin to do a ["farm-to-table" program] and showing the children that [with] what you grew, you can also have a gourmet meal with it," said Roper.

"A lot of the kids that come to the farm have probably never had kale or some of these greens before and now they’re eating them all the time. We’re getting them to drink infused-herb waters and so it’s fun to see how people have made lifestyle changes just by having access to what’s here," said Hishahak.

The Green Haven Project has fed over 100,000 people in the community. To help support the nonprofit's mission, click here.