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Environmental Justice

Land Projects

A sample of successful projects funded through the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program

Informing Loíza’s Residents of Strategies to Reduce Solid Waste (Loíza, PR) (2012)

Solid waste is a significant environmental concern in the small town of Loíza on Puerto Rico's northeastern coast. Aware of the problem, Scuba Dogs Society, an environmental non-profit organization, created and launched the “Community Engagement in Solid Waste Management, Recycling, and Costal Reservation in Loiza” project in 2012.  Working with the Recycling Coordinators Office of the town, Scuba Dogs Society held community meetings between residents and business owners about solid waste concerns.  The project team also hosted coastal cleanup events with volunteers from environmental clubs, schools, and companies, and two educational workshops at Mediania Alta Elementary School.  A community forum was also held between government officials, commerce officials, students, engineers, architects, and community leaders to generate ideas for solutions to solid waste concerns.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 19 costal cleanups conducted
  • Over 32,000 pounds of aquatic debris cleared with the support of more than 1,900 volunteers
  • Coastal cleanup database created with information on waste collected

Educating South Florida’s Residents on Hydroponic Urban Gardening (Miami Florida) (2012)

The Patricia and Phillip Museum of Science in Miami, Florida initiated the “Hydroponic Urban Garden Project” to encourage healthy and environmentally friendly alternatives to industrially produced agricultural products and processed foods.  With the support of a 2012 Environmental Justice Small Grant, the Patricia and Phillip Museum of Science worked with five elementary schools to educate residents on hydroponic urban gardening, installed hydroponics systems, and hosted “Family Urban Nutrition Day” and “Miami Eats” events.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 650 pounds of food distributed
  • 750 community members educated on healthy eating
  • 5 schools installed with hydroponics systems

Promoting Sustainable Agriculture & Healthy Food Production in Athens (Athens, GA) (2013)

Food insecurity is a major issue for residents in the Hancock corridor of Athens, Georgia.  Athens Land Trust, a neighborhood non-profit organization, implemented the “West Broad Garden Environmental Empowerment Project” in 2013 with the support of an Environmental Justice Small Grant.  The goal of the project was to educate residents on water conservation, pesticide use, composting, and organic gardening practices to promote sustainable agriculture and healthy food production.  Athens Land Trust hosted workshops on organic farming methods, installed a composting system at the West Broad Market Garden, developed raised garden beds, planted trees, and held multiple community events to raise awareness on the health and environmental benefits of organic gardening.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 24 workshops hosted on organic farming methods, composting, water conservation, nutrition, and healthy cooking
  • 10,284.5 pounds of compostable materials collected

Creating Safe Soil for Healthy Gardening (Lawrence, MA) (2012)

In Lawrence, MA, one of the poorest and most populated Latino cities in New England, many families grow vegetables in lead contaminated soil on city-owned vacant lots or in their yards where soil has not been tested. Groundwork Lawrence, a non-profit organization, launched the “Safe Soil” project with the support of an Environmental Justice Small Grant in 2012.  The project team collected and tested soil samples from vacant lot sites, with two quadrants that had the highest lead levels amended.  Groundwork Lawrence also tested soil in residents’ backyards, designed and developed raised garden beds for residents, and hosted organic gardening workshops to raise awareness on the negative effects of growing vegetables in lead contaminated soil.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 40 residents’ backyards and 12 vacant lot sites tested for lead contamination
  • 20 organic gardening workshops hosted, reaching 289 residents
  • 21 residents provided raised garden beds to grow vegetables in safe soil for themselves and their families
  • $51,000 in new funding secured to continue the project’s fresh food initiatives

Providing Solid Waste Education to Migrant Farmworker Communities (Kansas City, MO) (2012)

The Migrant Farmworkers Project, a non-profit organization, initiated the “Proyecto Re-medioambiente (Environmental Change Project)” in 2012 with its youth group.  The goal of the project was to provide solid waste education to community members to improve the environment they live in.  With the support of an Environmental Justice Small Grant, the project conducted outreach to labor camps, gave presentations and placed recycling bins around the camps, and collected recyclable waste.  Students also volunteered at Migrant Farmworkers Project’s food pantry distribution events for rural residents.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 12 labor camps targeted for education and outreach about solid waste disposal
  • Trained youth members of the project into recycling educators

Promoting Urban Agriculture & Food Sustainability in Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY) (2013)

In the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Green Guerillas, a non-profit organization, launched a 2013 Environmental Justice Small Grants project to promote urban agriculture and food sustainability.   The goal of the project was to inform residents and community gardeners about water conservation, harvesting, and alternatives to pesticides.  The project team conducted a needs assessment of community garden groups, held conferences and workshops on organic gardening and urban agriculture, provided vegetable seedlings and organic soil to gardening groups, and installed rainwater harvesting and composting systems at community gardens.

Project Accomplishments:

  • 4 community gardens installed with rainwater harvesting systems, each able to collect 7,300 gallons of rainwater per year
  • 600 residents and community gardeners trained in urban agriculture
  • 7 youth environmental educators established
  • 6 tons of organic soil distributed to 8 community gardens