Logan Wilson Feature-1-provided-111020_web
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Community gardener fights to eradicate local food deserts

 

Food deserts and a lack of affordable nutritious food are concerns of Homewood resident Logan Wilson. She is determined to change that trend. 

Wilson began her journey of gardening almost 15 years ago with one seed. 

Logan Wilson standing in the greenhouse of Armstrong Farms and Bear Gardens. (Provided photo) 

When she saw that it sprouted, her passion for gardening began. Her primary focus is the eradication of food deserts, followed by inspiring people to grow their own food. Wilson described seeing miles of food deserts in communities, and knew she had the capacity to implement change. 

“I cannot garden and not give back with what I’m doing,” Wilson said. “Whether that is through teaching people how to grow, giving them the supplies to grow, or providing produce.”

According to Wilson, early in the pandemic the logistics of the food supply chain were heavily affected. Excess food products, such as vegetables and dairy, were wasted. This prompted her to take action.

Around June, she began to build a network that connected growers with the people in need of food. She began collecting the food and donating it to distribution sites. 

“Food that is good for you is expensive and that’s not fair,” Wilson stated. “So if I can grow healthy food and donate it, then I will.”

Wilson started volunteering at Armstrong Farms. The owner, Jim Armstrong, collaborated with Wilson to scale the fully functioning organic farm. Though they can both be considered farmers, Wilson views herself as a grower, operating under the name of Bear Gardens. 

Produce was donated to places such as Restoration Ministries in Harvey, food pantries and women’s shelters. Wilson wanted to create a pandemic-safe food distribution network, which eventually led to Armstrong Farms and Bear Gardens becoming the primary produce supplier for the Flossmoor Community Church Food Drive-Up this summer and early fall. Wilson said each week anywhere from 50 to more than 100 bags of produce were donated. 

Jim Armstrong and Logan Wilson tending to the produce in the greenhouse. (Provided photo) 

From starting with just one seed years ago, Wilson now operates in a much larger 30 by 96-foot greenhouse, a process that she describes as building a plane while flying it. 

The greenhouse is operated without supplemental heat, meaning food can be grown all year round. Operating at 80% capacity for produce, some of the items grown there include lettuce, kale, snow peas, carrots and spinach. 

While Armstrong Farms and Bear Gardens donate food to those in need, they also operate with a for-profit model, such as working with Kim Nolen, owner of Redbird Café, who converted the cafe’s dining area into a fresh produce market in response to the indoor dining mandates due to pandemic. 

One project Wilson is particularly passionate about is developing a community garden for the Homewood-Flossmoor community, something she has been advocating for the past five years. 

Her vision would be a place that has garden beds that people can rent, classes children and adults can take to learn how to grow food, and lastly, connecting growers with suppliers. 

Wilson recently earned a produce safety certificate to deepen her learning and is taking courses to teach schools how to start and maintain a school garden. In inspiring people to grow their own food, Wilson said the first step is to know what you want to grow. She started a Facebook group that bridges the knowledge between novices and experts, so that everyone can feel empowered to start gardening. 

“Food brings people together, but growing food is the first step in that process,” said Wilson. 

To be a part of the Facebook group, search Homegrown Homewood Produce HF Community Garden on Facebook. 

For more information about gardening or the community garden, contact Wilson at [email protected]

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