Urban Gardening Classes Target Phoenix Homeless

Haley Paul, with UA Cooperative Extension, works with homeless clients to harvest vegetables from an urban garden on Maricopa County's Human Services Campus.
Haley Paul, with UA Cooperative Extension, works with homeless clients to harvest vegetables from an urban garden on Maricopa County's Human Services Campus.

On a street corner in downtown Phoenix, dozens of people line the sidewalk – sitting together in clusters, walking the street with over-stuffed packs slung over their shoulders. It's a gathering spot for many of the area's homeless – just outside Maricopa County's Human Services Campus, a resource complex designed to help bring an end to homelessness in the Phoenix area.

Inside the campus's locked gates, Ivan McCarthy rests a large backpack and a bulging black garbage bag against the chain-link fence and heads toward a garden, where he joins a group of about a dozen people who've come to learn about harvesting fresh vegetables.

"Has anyone ever had Swiss chard?" asks Kelly Young, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension assistant agent in horticulture.

No one raises a hand.

Young starts to explain the nutritional benefits of leafy greens such as Swiss chard and kale, which her students will learn to harvest today.

"Flamin' Hot Cheetos feel good for a minute, but they don't do anything for our health," she says. "We need to be eating vegetables for our health."

Young is teaching the second in a series of courses designed to teach job skills and good nutrition to homeless people in the Phoenix area.

The class is the result of a partnership between the Maricopa County Human Services Campus and UA Cooperative Extension, part of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Cooperative Extension staff, with support from Human Services Campus and UA Master Gardener volunteers, offer educational programming twice a month in the campus's one-acre urban garden, which was dedicated in November.

Read the rest of this February 14 UANews article at the link below.

Date released: 
Feb 15 2013
Contact: 
Haley Paul