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GROW & SHARE: FOX 4 shows you how group feeds families in Immokalee food desert

A garden that's less than a tenth of an acre actually produces 2,000 pounds of food a year and feeds 500 families in the area.
Posted at 10:31 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 22:32:22-04

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — A garden less than a tenth of an acre hides behind Misión Peniel and is one of the few ways people get fresh food in Immokalee.

Immokalee is a designated food desert which means it's difficult to access fresh food in the area.

Every Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Misión Peniel, Cultivate Abundance distributes fresh food from their garden to people in Immokalee, and Lupita Vazques Reyes is there each week.

Cultivate Abundance Immokalee food desert
The small garden at Cultivate Abundance is less than a tenth of an acre behind the Misón but it produces 2,000 pounds of food a year.

"We have workers working in these fields that are providing food on the table for so many of us but have the ironic need and urgency to not be able afford food on their own table," Vazquez Reyes said.

She manages the gardens for Cultivate Abundance. She said their small garden is less than a tenth of an acre behind the Misón but it produces 2,000 pounds of food a year.

Every week, they feed up to 500 Immokalee families.

Vazuez Reyes said, "What is most important here? The people that we serve, so what is it that they want?"

They grow fresh fruits and greens native to Guatemala, Mexico and Haiti, so people can make meals that are more familiar.

One woman in the distribution line said, "Me necisté en mi casa, comer." (I needed this in my house to eat.)

Cultivate Abundance Immokalee food desert
People line up to receive fresh vegetables and fruit from the Cultivate Abundance gardens in Immokalee.

Vazquez Reyes grew up here and said Winn Dixie is still the only supermarket in the area. She remembers her family drove to Fort Myers for affordable food and more options.

However, not everyone can do that.

"Cuatro dólares los tacos. Mejor me ahorrar mis ocho dólares y hace tres tacos en la casa," another man said. (Four dollars for a taco. It's better I save my eight dollars and make three at home."

Part of the problem is people don't make enough money to afford both rent and groceries, Vazquez Reyes said.

Poster image - 2024-05-10T221954.670.jpg
Lupita Vazues Reyes runs the Cultivate Abundance gardens behind Misión Peniel in Immokalee.

Cultivate Abundance believe people shouldn't have to choose between the two.

"What I love about this garden is it reflects the Immokalee community, and the hard working Immokalee community that really is putting food on the table for so many in America," Vazquez Reyes said.

Find more information on Cultivate Abundance here.