This article was written by past Local Food Program Director, Steve Russell.
Get Going, Get Growing (also known as 4G) is a community initiative of the International Sonoran Desert Alliance that has already resulted in a great benefit to the Ajo community. Over the last three years, the 4G program has significantly increased the community’s resiliency and self-reliance by improving access to food, and it has graduated 20 interns mentored on all aspects of gardening and small scale food production.
Healthy food options are not widely available Ajo, which is a rural low-income area, largely covered by a USDA food desert. In the program’s few short years, gardens have been established and maintained at the health clinic, the school, and various neighborhoods and communities—as well as in many backyards. In addition, over 160 families now regularly receive 4G’s free and healthy produce through an ongoing relationship with the local food bank.
Get Going, Get Growing is about more than gardening and healthy eating habits, too. This is a critical development opportunity for the program’s participants. 4G interns learn valuable agriculture experience, job training and customer service skills, which increases their employability when the time comes for them to move on to other opportunities.
This program is a stellar example of the incredible value of building human capital in Arizona’s small communities. Through the efforts of the 4G program, community members have a significant increase in availability of fresh produce for this isolated community and its graduates have grown into strong advocates for healthy lifestyles in Ajo.
See also: The Revolution Requires Cover Crops, Edible Baja Arizona