The popularity of local farmers markets and community gardens is on the rise and a group in Austin is taking the idea a step further with the Food is Free Project. The organization started in November and is the brain child of John Edwards, who said in a recent Texas Daily article that the goal of the project is to spread a sense of community through neighborhood gardening, while promoting self-sustainability and environmental consciousness.
The idea of the project is for community members to grow edible gardens in their front yards, allowing neighbors and friends to enjoy the bounty. When you decide to join the project you are provided a wicking bed for your garden that is built from salvaged materials. Wicking beds, a new technique in agriculture, have an underground water reservoir that is filled with organic waste and water. This nutrient rich water, essentially a compost tea, wicks upwards to the root zone. This way the soil stays moist, not saturated which increases food production. Water can also be harvested by directing the run-off into the wicking bed. This makes it so the gardens only need to be watered every 2-4 few weeks.
The Green Schoolhouse Series partner, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will be providing the edible garden for the Safari schoolhouse, the inaugural build of the series, at Roadrunner Elementary School in Phoenix. Like the Food is Free Project, they look forward to the chance to improve the surrounding community and educate the students at Roadrunner the importance of locally grown produce.