How a Vodka Company Is Reviving Community Gardens and Farms All Across America
Across the US, bars, restaurants, and even nonprofits are doing something beyond their usual scope: Taking dilapidated, vacant spaces and transforming them into vibrant gardens.
We’re in the midst of a major change in how food is grown all across the US. Our perspective on how people access food is changing, with direct relationships between farmers and consumers becoming more of a priority. This change is happening alongside a new focus: Community gardens and farms working to alleviate hunger, increase access to fresh and healthy foods, and build stronger neighborhoods. In fact, according to The Trust For Public Land, community garden plots have increased over 53% since 2012. Many of these have been led by nonprofits aiming to revitalize their communities and rediscover the benefits of local farming.
The folks at Tito’s Handmade Vodka are a part of this gardening revolution, starting their own farm at their distillery in Austin, TX. The goal was simple: provide fresh, healthy food to team members, while inspiring themselves to eat well. Meals are cooked onsite, fresh produce is available to take home, and everyone has a chance to access foods that make them feel good. With 74 raised beds, the farm is able to grow a swath of fresh produce, from red peppers to purple cauliflower. The success of this project is what inspired Love, Tito’s, the philanthropic heart of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, to launch Block to Block. Since 2019, the Block to Block program has worked to support these same types of farms and community gardens nationwide.
Of course, the Tito’s team didn’t want to build a movement on dreams alone, they needed the know-how. So, they teamed up with non profit farms, community gardens, and local green spaces to expand and develop their infrastructure, being led by the folks who knew best. In Portland, OR, for example, the team collaborated with Zenger Farm, an urban farm dedicated to sustainability, community development, and providing food for residents in the area. Thanks to support from the Block to Block program, the farm was able to build greenhouses and other infrastructure to increase their productivity.
“Our community has experienced greater food vulnerability and reliance on our local food systems because of the pandemic,” said a spokesperson from Zenger. “Thanks to Tito's support we were able to increase our capacity to store and distribute produce [that] fed over 165 families (nearly 550 individuals) for the entire season.”
In some cities, that meant building from scratch. The Block to Block program and Dallas' Restorative Farms took a vacant lot next to their existing Hatcher Station Training Farm and developed it into an entirely new plot. With raised beds, GroBoxes, seedlings, and soil, Block To Block was able to help create a self-sustaining farm that will benefit the neighborhood with fresh vegetables for years to come.
The work of Block to Block ranges far and wide, from major projects found in Dallas to everyday efforts like buying seeds, setting up composting sites, and educating the next generation of community growers. Whether they’re working on entire overhauls or just making green spaces nicer for neighborhoods, no project is too small. The Block to Block program is running in 28 cities across the US, with countless opportunities to get your hands dirty and plenty of worthy nonprofits always looking for new volunteers. To learn more about the program and find a way to support farms in your city, check out Titosvodka.com/block-to-block.