Nature’s Path Organic Foods is sponsoring a fabulous, $15,000.00 grant competition for urban farms and we need your vote to win. Voting and selection are based on responses to three (3) simple and easy application inquiries:

(1) Who are you?

(2) What are you doing or planning to do about food and urban farming?

(3) How will you use the money?

What isn’t easy is reading the submitted answers online…so I hope this version is easier on the eye. If you approve of our work to date, please visit the Contest Link, type “Nabrit” in the search bar and VOTE…then “Share” the link and please remember you may vote daily!

The Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden (Project Name) Telos Training, Inc. (Fiscal Agent)

(1) Telos Training, Inc. (Telos) begun in 2005, received IRS certification as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization in 2011. Telos focuses on the traditional work and spiritual insight of women and their impact on children, families and communities.

(2) Telos designed and manages the 3,850 sq. ft., bio-diverse, self-sustaining, Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden, (CMNMG) behind The Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith (CCAF), 1200 Brentnell Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, 43219. CCAF is home to a 105+ year-old, predominantly black congregation. Begun in 2014, CMNMG fights urban food deserts by increasing access to affordable, whole, live food.

The USDA Economic Research Service data highlights zip code 43219 as “low income, low access”, meaning the households within that zip code are at least 1 mile from a supermarket, 33% are low income ($56,000 annual income for a household of four) and 13.2% of those households are without a car. The distance to a supermarket in this zip code is twice as far as the distance to a fast food option. The surviving sons and nephews of Charles Madison Nabrit (CMadison) built the garden with 38 raised beds crafted from 700 ft of untreated lumber, lined with newspapers, filled with 20 tons of organic soil and watered by an above ground, drip irrigation system. They then added 4′ gravel walkways and solar path lights between the beds, 2 large composters, a worm composter, rain barrels, perimeter fencing, a blackboard, comfy bench and large outdoor rug for children’s classes.

CMNMG grows….

VEGGIES  Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Bok Choi, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Buttercrunch Lettuce, Carrots, Cauliflower, Collard Greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mustard Greens, Onions, Red Cabbage, Romaine Lettuce, Shallots, Spinach, Sugar Snap Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes (4 cultivars), Turnips, Yukon Gold Potatoes and Zucchini;

HERBS Basil, Borage, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme;

FRUIT Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Strawberries and Watermelon; and

FLOWERS Daffodils, Gardenia, Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Marigolds, Nasturtium, Peonies, Petunias, Roses, Tulips and Zinnias.

During the harvest CMNMG holds a weekly, onsite Farmer’s Market and Bake Sale where the produce is sold for $1.00 a pound! 

We hold community classes for children, teens and adults including “Worms are Wonderful”-Vermiculture Composting for Kids; Recycling & Organic Chemistry/DIY Series (fertilizer, pesticide & weed killer); Water Conservation “How to Build an Olla” and nutritional classes like “How to Cook with Herbs instead of Salt” and classes on Canning, Pickling & Preserving the Harvest.

CMNMG brings generationally and economically diverse members of community together in one tranquil and beautiful space. Our volunteers, visitors, students and customers include members of the congregation, kids from the recreation center next door, neighbors in the community, patrons of the church’s food pantry and folks who just hear about our classes and our great prices on great produce. Our eldest volunteer is an amazing 89 year-old black man originally from Alabama who comes with his daughter. He has helped plant two 10’x5′ beds of Collard Greens and Kale and inspired us all with his incredible energy, flexibility and strength, he also has planted quiet wisdom Do for Self, perspective This reminds me of George Washington Carver, patience and insight into the young children, teenagers and adults blessed to work side-by-side in the garden with him.

Along with our primary mission of fighting food deserts by increasing access to affordable, whole, live food, the CMNMG also works to reconnect the community to its spiritual and cultural roots. CCAF which generously allows Telos the use of the land, is a congregation populated primarily by African-Americans of the great migration, descendents of the original African diaspora. CMadison’s sons and nephews are 5th generation members of this congregation, a congregation with roots deeply embedded in scriptural and spiritual components of gardens and the cultural and historical components of food cultivation in America.

CMNMG is a community space of peace and healing and nourishment for the soul and the spirit as well as the body. We intentionally planted an array of flowers throughout this garden because the aesthetics matters. So often created spaces in the midst of poverty give short shrift to the spiritual necessity of beauty in nature. CMNMG presents beauty as function and while we have a designated 100 sq. ft. Butterfly & Bee Pollinator Garden-and our Monarch Waystation certification & signage-the flowering plants, trees and herbs strategically placed throughout the 3,850 sq. ft. create a fragrant and inviting space for all our visitors, including our pollinators.

The children in the community have an exciting and beautiful and welcoming space to discover and explore various aspects of the natural world-an easy introduction to STEM. The square foot gardening method allows even young children an opportunity to work with simple math concepts by measuring the beds to grid them and planting a specific number of seeds per square. Reading the plant labels to determine whether seeds need 1/4, 1/2, 1 or 2 inches of soil is an easy access point to fractions. Adding dried, crushed egg shells to vinegar, moving Calcium Carbonate to Calcium, adding it to Epsom salts as a water soluable source of Magnesium makes a great liquid fertilizer…while adding coffee grounds for Nitrogen to dried, crushed banana peels for Potassium and dried, crushed egg shells creates a fine, dry fertilizer. These are projects kids love and provide even more introductions to chemistry in the garden. We use wooden spoons as plant labels with the common name and the Latin name of each plant printed clearly in indelible markers. This allows children to easily see the connection between the different cultivars of various plants.

Making science accessible is important. CMadison’s two eldest sons, Charles and Damon, both Princeton alums, formerly homeschooled by CMadison, have lead all the children’s classes with the added benefit of increasing the kids’ opportunities to interact with adult black males outside their family yet within their community.

(3) The $15,000.00 grant will help CMNMG complete Phase 2 including:

(a) purchase and installation of a 8’x16′ large, sturdy, all weather, polycarbonate Greenhouse with solar powered ventilation system, automatic watering system, large potting sink and work bench system;

(b) purchase and installation of a 9’x12’x 20′ Cedar Pergola;

(c) purchase and planting of ten (10) fruit trees to be trained espalier style along both sides of the Pergola, including (2) Rainier Cherry Trees, (2) Black Tartarian Cherry Trees, (2) Alberta Peach Trees (2) Contender Peach Trees, (2) Honey Crisp Apple Trees and (2) Granny Smith Apple Trees;

(d) purchase and planting of three (3) Grapes cultivars to be grown across the top of the Pergola, (1) Concord Seedless, (1)Niagara, and (1) Reliance Seedless; 

(e) purchase and planting of four (4) Kiwi-(1) Arctic Beauty Male and (3) Arctic Beauty Female to be grown along the entrance arch of the Pergola; and

(f) purchase and install a large canopy, signage and reusable produce shopping bags- with our logo-for the Farmer’s Market & Bake Sale.

In preparation for Phase 2, we have attended webinars on apple tree cultivars hosted by The Ohio State University Extension Center, gardening courses funded by Scotts MiracleGro and hosted by Franklin Park Conservatory’s Growing to Green program and onsite meetings with Jonathan Moody, a principle in the architectural firm of Moody and Associates, for siting advice on the Greenhouse and Pergola.

For more inspiration, please view our 2014 video created by CMadison’s youngest son, Evan (Amherst College & MFA, UPENN-also homeschooled)….and then VOTE, SHARE and tomorrow…VOTE AGAIN! Thanks for helping us #fightfooddeserts!