UGW BIOGRAPHY

WHO IS UGW?

Urban GreenWorks (UGW) started 10 years ago with the goals of providing south Floridans with improved access to, availability of, and advocacy for healthy local, organic foods, urban farming & environmental education, horticulture therapy, and volunteer opportunities. Zoom ahead and the foundation continues to develop, adapt, and evolve yet the philosophy remains the same: Protect the Environment, Protect Your Health, Protect Your Community! Part of taking care of oneself is taking care of the environment, especially when packed into urban centers. If you take care of yourself i.e., physical and mental health, then you take care of your community. It all comes down to one’s Personal and Social Responsibility.

UGW is always self-analyzing and adapting to the changing needs of our community. We began internal and community discussions, 4 years ago, about integrating the Whole Measures For Community Food Systems (WMCFS) into our core philosophy.  "When applied to a social or environmental change initiative, Whole Measures can serve as a foundation for a highly integrated, whole systems approach that effectively embraces a wide variety of values such as: social equity, biodiversity, human rights, ecosystem health, civic engagement, and economic vitality."

UGW's public health philosophy is based on that of "Planetary Health", which according to the Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission, is “the achievement of the highest attainable standard of health, well-being, and equity worldwide through judicious attention to the human systems—political, economic, and social—that shape the future of humanity and the Earth's natural systems that define the safe environmental limits within which humanity can flourish. Put simply, planetary health is the health of human civilization and the state of the natural systems on which it depends”.

UGW connects all of the inputs we receive from within and outside of the organization and look at things as they relate to the bigger picture, if that is even clear. But really, the bigger picture is the inter-connectedness between all living things and the impact that we have on each other. The Life Web is vast and in the beginning Urban GreenWorks spent most of its time focused on issues of the Environment & Food Security.

UGW understands that each and every one of us have a personal and social responsibility to support the Common Good. We understand that there are many extenuating circumstances affecting our work, and effecting the lives of the people we serve. Understanding these social determinants of health (SDOH) and developing creative, holistic, and sustainable programs that address them are how we look to serve our mission.

As we move into our next decade of service, UGW Global is embracing technology as we delve into the Science & Economics of why and how we grow Food. We have partnered with Studio James Brazil on F.R.U.I.T. (Food Resilience Urban Infrastructure Tools), a farming information model, created to help US better design and create sustainable projects that manage food security and reduce food waste.

 

UGW Global is working to create a stronger foundation & network through which individuals, around the world, can invest and engage in solutions that promote healthy lifestyles and a healthy planet for ALL via volunteerism or direct action in the areas of:

  • Environment

  • Farming

  • Health 

  • Social Responsibility

WHAT WE GROW

South Florida is one of the most exciting regions to farm in the U.S. We have year round sunshine, being located in Zone 10. This comes with a myriad of soil, water access, and pest management issues (as we are regional to the Caribbean, South America, and Africa). However, the benefit is year-round farming and a diversity of crops that can only grow here. Click on one of the following links for a rundown of what grows well in south Florida in season: SPRING, SUMMERFALL

WHERE WE GROW

UGW started growing food as part of its community foods security programming 10 years ago. We started with a small community grant from the American Community Gardening Association. After an initial failed effort (community gardening in SoFL is community specific), we had the idea of combining small plot gardens across the City to create one big community urban farm. We connected with supporters at the City of Miami and inquired about open-spaces, unused and available.

Our efforts garnered us access to three unused city lots in Miami's District 5 neighborhood of Liberty City, a USDA classified "food dessert". The women who started that first lot were from Liberty City and called their effort a P.A.T.C.H. (Public Allies That Cultivate Hope). What started as a healing and medicinal garden for these women, evolved into Miami's first urban farm on 18,000 sq. ft. of unused, open City space.

Today, through strategic partnerships, UGW has expanded its urban farm to over an acre of unused space; we have developed a nationally recognized horticultural therapy program call the "Mustard Seed" project that works with abused women and veterans; we have developed school garden curricula, food forests, and aquaponic systems; we create and restore native habitat through our "Hammocks in da Hood" and "Pollinator Pathway" projects; we offer sustainable and replicable advisory services to those interested in the work; and we continue to grow healthy, affordable, organic food (up from 500lbs to 2000lbs annually) for our Community.

Click here to see our active projects!

WHY WE GROW

Progress in the not-for-profit (NFP) arena is made best through collaboration and partnership development. NFPs are constantly faced with budgetary, resource, information and volunteer limitations. Much of work is geared towards project/program development and is dependent on grant funds and charitable donations. Most are ill-equipped with manpower, expertise, and time to improve operational infrastructure. UGW is no different in terms of our needs but our approach to meeting those needs is what separates us from most. 

We are constantly self-analyzing and adapting to the ever changing rules, environment, and community with the goal of staying ahead of the curve in regards to how our work pertains to the health, social, and environmental impact on communities we serve.

To this end, UGW has been fortunate to align itself with partners and collaborators who share similar visions of how to approach and address the socio-economic issues that affect those we serve. Click on the link to see a library of collaborators, partners, funders, and references.

HOW WE GROW

Our organization grows because we are constantly adapting our organizational approach to the ever changing dynamics of the populations we serve. When you peel back the layers of an Urban GreenWorks activity/program, you'll find principles of horticultural therapy, population & planetary health, urban forestry, permaculture, social responsibility, sustainability, reformation and social justice. These principles are derived from the academic and experiential philosophies of our founders.

At UGW, our intent is to create best practice models directed at benefiting individual & planetary health. We strive to provide communities with relevant information, direction and resources that engages individuals to act upon their personal and social responsibility - helping to create physical, political, economic, and social improvement for ALL. Our projects/programs are designed to be easily replicated and adaptable to a diverse array of social settings.

We grow because we work holistically. We work at the the grassroots level (local government, community-based organizations, local businesses, and residents) where we can see the effects of our work, as we directly engage our community. What is community? Community is where you live, work, and play. Our programs are community specific, urban to rural.

We work regionally, consulting on similar issues we face here in south Florida as well as creating models of success and addressing policies at the State level. Globally, we look to connect with others doing similar work so that a story can be woven together as we share our best practices and failures. Together we can learn and share information that benefits us globally, regionally, locally, and individually.  

We work with our community in performing community needs assessments; we work within our community with others to address the needs of our community; we look at the health (global) impact of our projects on our community; and we work to address the needs of marginalized communities.

UGW offers community workshops, instructional videos, and panel discussions to our membership. These resources are for individuals ready to activate their own community impact. The goal is to educate, train, and empower individuals with the resources to activate change within their community. We look at developing local political partnerships, grant-search protocol, developing community partnerships, and addressing other hurdles that individuals face when looking to creating change within their community.