The Green Heart Project, a nonprofit focused on education, healthy food and community, has broken ground on its largest project to date - the Urban Farm at Enston Home. The farm will serve as a central venue for farm to school and outdoor education, youth development, healthy food access and community building.
“We are building an essential community asset, a place for education, for paid youth employment, and for growing food in a neighborhood that needs it,” said Jesse Blom, executive director of The Green Heart Project. “Every neighborhood should have an urban farm that brings people together to grow healthy food.”
Preparations for the grounds of the 65-bed urban farm, designed in partnership with landscape architecture and civil engineering firm SeamonWhiteside, began earlier this month and is underway with help from build partners James White Construction and Yellowstone Landscape. More than 20 build partners in total have pledged to contribute time, talent and materials to the project, alongside community volunteers.
“The groundbreaking milestone is the culmination of years of planning and collaborative design and just the beginning of a project that will serve the community for generations,” said Gary Collins, managing principal, SeamonWhiteside. “We’re proud and excited to support The Green Heart Project and to work with industry partners to help make this vision a reality.”
Construction of the raised beds is scheduled to start this month with the help of volunteers from SeamonWhiteside and other partners organizations. The 60-day build coincides with the launch of the inaugural Youth Internship Program, which was developed to empower young people to cultivate their workplace and life skills as they help manage the new urban farm. As part of the program, the interns will run a weekly pay-what-you-can farm stand, scheduled to launch at the site June 18. The build will conclude with an urban farm opening celebration, in time for students at surrounding schools to begin learning at the farm at the start of the school year.
The Urban Farm at Enston Home will be a half-acre production farm, featuring 65 raised garden beds, a greenhouse, fruit tree orchard, farm stand and outdoor pavilion. In addition to the internship program and farm stand, the farm will provide education to over 1,000 K-12 students, as well as community building through public events, workshops and volunteer opportunities. Once constructed, it’s estimated that the Urban Farm will yield approximately 3,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables that will be available to the community and neighboring schools.
The seed for this project was planted back in 2017, through conversations between The Green Heart Project, Mayor John Tecklenburg and the Housing Authority of the City of Charleston, who helped to identify the centrally-located William Enston Home as a great site for a community-based urban farm.
“We are proud to partner with The Green Heart Project to fulfill the spirit of William Enston’s will, which requested that a garden be available for our residents,” said Don Cameron, president and CEO of the Charleston Housing Authority. “The Urban Farm will be an amenity for Enston Home residents and students at the surrounding schools, promoting a sense of community and serving as a place for everyone to gather.”
To date, The Green Heart Project has raised over $1.3 million for the Urban Farm at Enston Home, representing 65 percent of the $2.1 million goal to build the farm and support its operations over the next five years.
For more information on how to get involved or support the Urban Farm at Enston Home, visit https://greenheartsc.org/