While farm-to-table restaurants are trending, hundreds of thousands of people remain without access to fresh foods. Drexel environmental studies student Lindsay Bushong is hoping to put a dent in that number, one family at a time. In 2014, Bushong and classmate Christian Brown were working in the Drexel Dornsife Center community garden, teaching local residents plant and soil basics and sending them home with fresh produce. One of the residents in attendance asked how the raised garden beds were built.
“We tried to explain but realized it would just be easier if we showed her,” says Bushong. “That conversation spawned the idea for Backyard Beds. We began going to residents’ homes and installing raised [garden] beds for them.”
The organization’s business model is simple: local residents apply through the group’s website and, as long as the yard is suitable, the group installs a raised bed. The cost to install is based on a sliding scale and, once the garden is built, the group provides residents with educational materials and access to free workshops hosted by Drexel Urban Growers, a student group led by Bushong.
“Many people in the communities near Drexel can’t access fresh food as easily as students or Center City residents,” Bushong says. “Being able to act as a tool of action for city residents is incredibly rewarding.”