TigerMountain Foundation is “planting the seeds of change,” in South Phoenix, one community garden at a time. Founder Darren Chapman, who started the program in 2008, works with groups of potentially at-risk youth, veterans, homeless populations and people who have previously been incarcerated. Those involved with the program learn about gardening and landscaping, as well as essential work and life skills.
“It’s hard work, but it’s very rewarding because it’s being done by us,” Chapman said. “It’s a group of people whose assets may otherwise go unappreciated.”
TigerMountain Foundation embraces youth and connects with neighbors through three community gardens located on previously vacant lots in South Phoenix. The “Garden of Tomorrow” on the corner of 18th Place and Broadway Road is in a neighborhood that has the highest recidivism rate in the country. Next to it is a senior living establishment that is surrounded by other vacant parcels and parking lots.
“Through our work, we’re activating the space and engaging the community,” Chapman said.
Chapman says he is proud to lead an organization that provides healthy food options, teaches participants about nutrition, and creates meaningful change in surrounding communities. TigerMountain Foundation truly transforms lives – 85 percent of the youth they work with have avoided jail, or not returned to jail after getting involved at the gardens.
“Not only do we affect our community,” Chapman said, “but we can bring people into this conversation and be proactive.”
The members of TigerMountain Foundation take their locally grown produce to local farmers markets and sell it on a donation-only basis. You can find them at the Uptown Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and at the Ahwatukee Farmer’s Market every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. If you stop by their booth, not only will you acquire fresh locally grown produce, but you’ll also learn about nutrition, community work, compassion and more. The organization also has over 40 pop-up produce stands scattered across the community. You can also visit TMF Experience Day every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, where you can stock up on fresh produce and even lend a hand at the gardens. All produce available is sold on a donation-basis, and the organization accepts SNAP/EBT, ensuring access to healthy food choices for all visitors.
If you can’t attend the markets mentioned above, visit the Harvest/Nuestra Cosecha market, another farmers market in South Phoenix that provides affordable, healthy food choices grown by and for the community. Harvest/Nuestra Cosecha is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. When you sign up, you're purchasing a “share” of fresh, healthy food from South Phoenix farmers. Each weekly share consists of fresh vegetables and/or fruit, with other local products occasionally included.
Don’t forget that Double Up Food Bucks is accepted at all of the markets mentioned above. Visit a location near you to stock up on locally grown fruits and vegetables and learn about the incredible impact of TigerMountain Foundation on their Phoenix community.
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