By Esther Chanpong
When major publications such as Travel+Leisure, Washington Post, and the Thrillist publish the best cities for dining, Houston never fails to top the charts for having one of the best food scenes in the country. But even in one of the nation’s most popular, diverse, and even affordable places for getting a good meal, within miles of downtown, food deserts exist where families can’t even get groceries. With a growing awareness of this deficit and the need to establish a local food economy in Houston’s underserved neighborhoods, PDR joined hands with members of CoreNet Houston to participate in their annual Community Reinvestment Project at The Last Organic Outpost. The Last Organic Outpost is an urban farm located in Houston’s Fifth Ward that empowers communities through sustainable agriculture, and teaches residents to produce healthy and accessible food despite economic, environmental, and social challenges. From volunteering with other members in the community, we soon learned that the farm’s acres of fruit, herbs, and vegetables thrive on organically composted soil formed by collecting food waste from restaurants all over Houston. Sustainable methods like this help educate residents about the science of food and environmental stewardship, while promoting healthy eating and encouraging farm and local food related business in the area. Tilling the ground that Saturday morning and planting vegetables was a great way of impacting the community while also connecting with the local residents. We found that not only do urban farms have the ability to nourish a community, but it’s also a healthy and relaxing activity that can increase social bonds and bring a community together.
Esther is a designer at PDR with experience in design-build and strategic planning. As an annual participant in CoreNet’s Reinvestment Project, she is passionate about sustainable living and creating spaces that bring communities together.