The city of Phoenix Office of Environmental Programs is beginning the next cohort of the Backyard Garden Program. participants will receive, at no cost to them, a garden system, including training, support, and maintenance (as needed) for one year.
Thanks to American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, the program already supplied 92 garden systems to community members in the first year. In year two, the program will provide 178 households with either a traditional raised bed garden (provided by TigerMountain Foundation), a regenerative agriculture system called a ‘LEHR Garden,’ or an aquaponics system (provided by NxT Horizon).
“I can go outside, harvest what I need, and use it to cook that night. That’s really convenient and inexpensive,” says Xavier Jones, who has a city-funded aquaponics system in his backyard. He grew more than 10 pounds of produce in the first few months.
Aquaponics systems grow produce on rafts floating in water. Inside the water are fish that provide nutrients for the plants, which in turn clean the water for the fish. Aquaponics expert and instructor Dr. George Brooks, Jr. makes the whole process simple for backyard gardeners.
“To see them as their individual plants start to grow and prosper and vine out and bloom and then produce fruit has been great,” he says.
The city of Phoenix is looking for passionate community members with an interest in growing food and who are willing to make a yearlong commitment to backyard gardening. Gardens will be installed in either the fall of 2022 or early spring of 2023.
“It doesn’t feel like work to me. It doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s something I’m passionate about,” says Jayleen McGehee of working in the raised bed garden that was installed in her backyard for free. “I go outside, get sun, grow things, and I provide for my family, because food is expensive right now.”
This program is for residents living in single-family homes only. To learn more, visit phoenix-gov.formstack.com/forms/bgp_2_en.