Activist Duron Chavis realized early on he needed to get his hands dirty, and that his work begins in the soil.
The 38-year-old is a proponent of urban gardening, an effort he says can address the disconnect African-Americans feel toward growing and accessing food, along with promoting self-sustainability. It’s not just about eating healthy; it’s about being able to provide for yourself.
“The urban gardening stuff has been an exercise in building community in its truest sense, and it changes the conversation,” Chavis says. “It’s one thing to talk about community issues and another to advocate about them.”
Growing up in the city’s South Side, Chavis, with friends, frequented convenience stores. Honey buns, soda, chips, ramen noodles and processed foods were all part of their diets. Nearby, the golden arches of McDonald’s, the smiling Hardee’s star, and the pink and purple hues of the Taco Bell sign shone brightly. The closest grocery store was miles away. The place he called home was smack dab in a food desert, an urban area with limited access to healthy and affordable food.
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