Kids, community leaders contribute to garden in northeast OKC’s food desert

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s no secret that access to healthy food is a crisis in northeast Oklahoma City.

In fact, just this week we told you the OKC City Council extended an emergency declaration in hopes of luring more grocery stores.

But there’s a spot on the northeast side where fruits and veggies are growing, and they hope it will change lives.

“So it’s like, from start to finish, she’s taught them about something they had no idea about,” said Brent Pannell, with National Resources Conservation Services.

Tomatoes, okra, peppers and more are blossoming in the city thanks to kids and passionate community members.

“All ages – we get out there and we grow the food, try to grow it all year,” said Dr. Tammy Gray-Steele, with the National Women in Agriculture Headquarters.

The organization was first founded to get more women involved in agriculture, but as things do, over time it evolved.

Now, their goal is to have the ideal space to educate youth.

“Most children that I have run across, all they know is Walmart,” said George Roberts, Jr., a third-generation farmer who helps educate the kids at the headquarters. “They say if Walmart don’t have it, then it don’t exist.”

The trouble is – it’s hard to find a full-service grocery store near them.

It’s a problem City Councilwoman Nikki Nice has been passionate about.

Nice is now joining the cause with farmers like Roberts, who is passing down the tricks of the trade so these kids can take matters into their own hands.

“I’m trying to show them if you don’t produce your own crops, you might have to go way across town and most of you don’t have vehicles,” he said.

Outside sit garden boxes, where community members can stop by and get fresh foods they need, for free, keeping the mission going.

“I always believe in trying to be a river more than a pond because a river flows and a pond stagnates,” said Roberts.

The group currently has an initiative pending before the United States Congress as a pilot program to 4-H and FFA to make sure all children have equal opportunities in agriculture.

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