Education News

In A Food Desert, Houston Middle Schoolers Plant Community Garden

It’s part of an effort to bring healthy food to a low-income neighborhood.

Fresh herbs and vegetables are planted in a garden bed behind the school.
Students at Drew Academy planted beds of leafy greens behind the school.

A few months ago, the field behind Charles R. Drew Academy was a big patch of grass. Today, it’s lined with fruit trees, beds of vegetables and fresh herbs.

Principal Earnest Washington Jr. says planting the garden has broadened the students’ outlooks on food.

“This is the hope, that we introduce them to an opportunity where they will become more knowledgeable of different vegetables that are available and things that can be grown in the area,” Washington says.

The school is in the Acres Homes neighborhood, much of which is classified as a food desert. That means residents don’t have easy access to fresh, healthy, affordable food.

Paco Valentin is with U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funded the project. He says the garden will benefit the community beyond Drew Academy.

“What a better place to start is with education, with our young people, not only promoting nutritious fruits and vegetables, but learning where your food comes from,” Valentin says.

The first harvest is expected to take place early next year. School administrators plan to host a farmer’s market for the neighborhood.


Food desert map acres homes


Tomeka Weatherspoon

Tomeka Weatherspoon

Senior Producer

Tomeka Weatherspoon is an Emmy-award winning producer. She produces segments, the weekly television program Arts InSight, the short film showcase The Territory and a forthcoming digital series on innovation. Originally from the Midwest, Tomeka studied convergence journalism from the world’s first journalism school at the University of Missouri. She has...

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