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Nonprofit Spotlight: Let's Grow Akron


Let's Grow Akron is a true grassroots organization in every context. For 35 years, the nonprofit has helped improve neighborhoods and alleviate hunger by working alongside residents to create healthy food systems using community gardening and education. Not only are people eating healthier as a result, but they also learn to prepare and preserve their own food, proactively improving their health, while beautifying these neighborhoods.

Lisa Nunn, executive director of Let's Grow Akron, poses among green leaves of freshly grown food.

With last year's $12,000 Health & Human Services grant, Let's Grow Akron served 3,500 people, with an abundant range of services and outcomes, like distributing more than 10,000 seed packets, launching 25 Community Food Gardens that serve 200 households, and providing 10,000 pounds of fresh food grown for community meals, food pantries and direct delivery.

The nonprofit also hosted weekly Summit Lake Farmers Markets, in addition to conducting monthly seasonal cooking classes, Cook Well Eat Well Live Well classes with food kits, food preservation and community canning sessions, and weekly Kids in the Garden programs. Let's Grow Akron's deep community roots help the organization attract a variety of volunteers of all ages, especially school-age students and interns.

And helping to organize the community and creating shared spaces for growing food has created long-lasting and authentic relationships for Let's Grow Akron.

"Growing and sharing food in community feeds the body and the soul," said Lisa Nunn, executive director of Let's Grow Akron. "I am grateful to be in a position to receive and share knowledge, skills and resources that build community and contribute to food security, health and wellbeing.

"Let's Grow Akron was established in 1988 by Elaine Evans as a grassroots organization with a mission of working alongside neighbors to transform overgrown vacant lots into community food gardens," she added.

"Positive interactions among neighbors in a shared effort to transform unsightly vacant lots into productive community gardens increases a sense of pride and ownership that often leads to other issues being addressed," states the organization's website. "Healthy relationships, community involvement, outdoor physical activity and increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables all contribute to mental and physical health and wellness. Increased health and wellness ultimately build a stronger community."

A group of kids and adults planting flowers in raised garden beds.

Let's Grow Akron's comprehensive services also include navigating regulations for land use, water access, seed-saving techniques, soil testing and preparing local plots of land for their agricultural journey. When asked how residents may connect with Let's Grow Akron, Nunn said, "Visit our Community Farm Market at 462 Harvey Ave., open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or place an order for pick up or delivery in the online market). Our fresh, organically grown produce is available here year round as well as value added products made from the harvest including jams, pickles, pickled peppers, hot sauces, salsa, honey, teas, seasonings, soaps, salves and more! Purchases from the Community Farm Market support community growing spaces and free educational programs."

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