Programs & Projects
Urban GreenWorks (UGW) was founded in 2010, with the intent of improving the environmental quality and community health of inner-city neighborhoods. Our aim was to first disrupt the "Cradle-to-Prison" pipeline - a system of incarceration that plagued many urban communities. We began with a horticulture program at the South Florida Reception Center, a men's prison in Miami-Dade county, and then at the Department of Juvenile Justice. We moved into the community with environmental and enrichment programs for youth at the TACOLCY Center in Liberty City and Here's Help, a drug treatment center for young men in Opa locka.
Each program allowed us to chip away at a piece of the pipeline, and in the process we engaged participants in community-based environmental and food justice projects - from planting trees to increase canopy cover, to building food forest gardens to addressing food security issues in food desert neighborhoods.
UGW started growing food as part of its community foods security programming eight years ago. We started with a small community grant from the American Community Gardening Association. 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 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.