Let’s Finish Strong…

When PFR was established in 2018 it was a complete leap of faith. I had a very basic knowledge of starting an edible garden. I only knew that my intention was to make a positive impact on the healthcare of low-income households in urban neighborhoods and for generations to come.

So, with my humongous vision, and little to no resources, I decided to do the little bit I could do at the time. First, I wrote my vision. Then, I started the process to form a legal business entity; I filed the paperwork to become a nonprofit organization.

I sat on it for a year and did nothing with it. Then, earlier this year, I decided it was time to take another step. That’s when I decided to reach out to a school to see if they’d be interested in partnering to form a school garden. That school was Merrill Road Elementary School. Surprisingly, the principal responded to my request immediately with a resounding yes. 

That put the wind in my sails. It gave me the confidence to keep moving forward. I began trying to raise the money through social media. I didn’t raise all of the funds I was seeking, but I raised enough to get the garden off the ground. I also leveraged a relationship I had with a contact at the University of Florida. A year earlier I met with her to share my vision and she was very supportive. So, when I reached out to her, she was excited to partner. She offered to supply the materials and technical assistance we needed to build the raised beds. 

Now, we’re approaching the end of the year and I’m excited that we have another school we’re working with – Fort Caroline Elementary School (FCES).

FCES is a Title 1 school with remarkable students and staff. It serves students in grades pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. FCES is comprised of predominantly African American students from low-income households and where 100% of the approximately 650 students enrolled receive free lunch. The second majority population is 20% English Language Learners (ELL’s). 

Often times, students come to school with unimaginable challenges. Many of them have siblings they feed and take care of, while others come from families that don’t have the money to buy clothes, supplies, or even a backpack.

Based on the school location and health disparities impacting this student body, FCES is an ideal partner to start a school garden. 

Audrey Hepburn is quoted as saying, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

That’s why PFR was established – to invest in the tomorrow of future generations. School gardens have entered the national spotlight as an effective way to promote life-long healthy habits. Our intention is to contribute to the reduction of low-income families who are diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Low-income families are diagnosed with these illnesses at much greater rates than affluent families. Families from the communities of the students attending FCES are at greater risk of these health conditions.  

Even starting something as simple as a school garden at FCES comes with challenges. Last school year, Bank of America built small raised beds outside the cafeteria. Unfortunately, during the late hours one night, someone came in and removed/stole parts of the flower beds. The area is now filled with weeds and doesn’t make the school very visually appealing for parents and visitors.

The proposed plan for FCES school garden is the construction of three raised beds. Additionally, we would like to implement a couple of landscaping projects to further beautify the campus.

So far, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Family Nutrition Program has committed to provide the resources for building the raised beds and to provide technical assistance. 

Now, we need your help to fulfill the remainder our vision. We need your help to purchase supplies for the students and teachers that maintain the garden, and also additional supplies to improve the school’s landscaping.

Some of the supplies include gardening tools, gloves, wheelbarrows, gardening shears, watering pots, hoses, seeds, plants, etc. These are the critical supplies necessary to allow the students to tend to the garden. 

As we approach the end of the year, we know that many businesses and individuals are looking for opportunities to make a tax-deductible contribution to a charitable organization.

We hope that you’ll consider making that contribution to PFR. We are a tax-exempt organization and we will put your donation to the best and highest use by serving the wonderful students at FCES. We’ll be sure to keep you abreast of the progress that your contribution makes happen. 

Please know that any amount you contribute is welcome. Just visit the “Donate” page on our website to make your tax-deductible contribution now. 

Thank you in advance for your support.  

Peace & Blessings!

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