By Isaiah Montoya
Photos courtesy of Planty for the People
Planty for the People was created in 2018 by Roman and Adriana Wilcox as a way to grow fresh produce in the inner-city. There were some obstacles but now in 2022 it has flourished and includes various programs designed to educate our food desert.
A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food, and Planty for the People is located at 901 Arizona Avenue in Central near Downtown El Paso, a low-income area without any major grocery stores. According to Director Adriana Wilcox our community definitely needs healthy food access and education. She says, “We believe that good, healthy food and a sense of community is a right for everyone. This is a place to present a commonplace in which these things may be cultivated and sustainably nurtured.”
It wasn’t exactly an easy process but by pairing with First Christain Church, the Wilcox’s non-profit was finally able to materialize. Wilcox says, “The church grounds already had garden beds. Through this underused community garden we were able to take over with the assistance of a group of volunteers.”
Volunteers are still maximally utilized at Planty for the People and through these volunteers many community members are learning about how to grow food in the Chihuahuan Desert via hands-on demonstrations regarding seed germination and more. Wilcox says, “Before, it was just a garden space and now it’s a place that El Paso has to have, because people deserve an open door to give them some care. People can learn how to grow from their own home and come here for in-person gardening opportunities.”
The opportunities at Planty for the People extends to high school kids through a partnership with the El Paso Independent School District and also to anyone else interested in volunteering at any of the 52 garden beds.
Knowledge about starting your own compost, germinating and sowing seeds, dealing with pests, harvesting and working with the seasons and seed saving is imparted. Additionally Planty for the People offers plant based cooking classes.
Food insecure volunteers can donate their time to qualify for a healthy vegan meal at partner restaurant One Grub Community.
One Grub Community claims to be El Paso’s first 100% plant based food business and it’s at the same location. Each week a limited menu at moderate prices is available. Some recent menu items include Hearts of Palm and local mushroom ceviche, potato sausage kale soup, jackfruit carnitas and even falafel sandwiches. The restaurant is actually an extension of Roman Wilcox’s 2016 venture, the One Grub Pop Up food truck; which served only plant based foods.
Recent One Grub Community/Planty for the People patron Alyssa Harmon said of the experience, “The atmosphere at the restaurant was vibrant, the food was excellent and the way they care about our community is great! Taking a tour of the community gardens really got me excited because in an arid place like El Paso – to find vibrant gardens which grow great food is awesome.” Way to go Planty for the People.
Planty for the People also utilizes other programs for community enlightenment including a community food pantry (which takes donations), garden classes and more. To find out more call 915-588-7078 or go to www.plantyforthepeople.org