Urban Seeds helps nourish community
BY MEGHAN STRATTON / PHOTOS BY ALEX MONTGOMERY
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down many things, but Evansville organization Urban Seeds continued going strong.
During the quarantine, the group saw an increase in local food and nutrient insecurity. The Urban Seeds team, led by executive director Robin Mallery, pivoted from their normal structure to provide relief efforts. Over the course of the stay-at-home order, Urban Seeds cooked and served 350 healthy meals each week for families in need through the Dream Center, YWCA, Memorial Baptist Senior Housing, Vision 1505, Lucas Place II, Garvin Lofts, John Cable Center, and Lincoln School.
“Our focus with Urban Seeds is to facilitate resilience building in families through restorative initiatives,” says Mallery. “Resilience is where families are confident and able to perpetuate well-being in their own household around nutrition because they’ve been given not only the tools but also the access to nourishing foods on a regular basis.”
To Mallery, a healthy food system means local growers and food producers feel embraced and supported in the community. Urban Seeds accomplishes this mission through educational programs like Nourish, a community grocery buying club initiative that bridges the gap between healthy cooking and expensive ingredients. Other food-centered programs include meal planning, cooking classes, and use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets.
Amanda Bradshaw-Burks, movement manager for Urban Seeds, adds there often are barriers to accessing healthy foods, whether it be transportation, money, knowledge, or other factors.
Urban Seeds, founded in 2005, has developed from a community garden project to a fully functioning nonprofit. Although the past 15 years have seen changes in leadership and structure, the intention of providing access to nourishing foods for the Evansville community has remained the same.
“For us, we really try to focus on the restorative efforts and provide that long-term accessibility to nourishing foods,” says Bradshaw-Burks. “We’re trying to find where those barriers are and break the barriers down, so people can continue to access the healthy food.”