Vacant lots in cities are usually found in the most blighted sections with potentially dangerous activity running rampant. They can be breeding grounds for drug dealers and juvenile delinquents to loiter. That along with the presence of literal trash are the main reasons Andromeda Brooks decided to take action by turning the vacant lot at Chanslor Avenue and First Street in Richmond, CA, into an urban farm that supports the community, reports area news source Richmond Confidential.
“I’m gonna put food on the corner instead of drugs,” Brooks said. “Growing has always been a part of me. It would be nice if it could be like a community-supported grocery store.”
She started the project by herself and named it the “Happy Lot Farm and Garden.” Today, the 14,000-square-foot lot, which was previously covered with weeds, trash, and debris, is a thriving example of urban agriculture. Happy Lot features two dozen varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as some chickens, ducks, and rabbits and a quail.
Most of the food Brooks harvests from the flourishing urban farm she gives away to local community members, volunteers, and even the random passerby. Reports even indicate she sometimes leaves surprise gifts inside cars people leave unlocked, though nothing is confirmed at the time of this writing.
There are monthly volunteer days where neighbors and community members come out and help her plant, clean, harvest, dig, and whatever else needs to be done on the given day. They even helped her build a custom pergola for grapevines to grow around. Though perhaps not a traditional pergola in the architectural sense, it, like everything else in the Happy Lot Farm and Garden, was made entirely from recycled and reclaimed material.
The garden reminds Brooks of her childhood, as she grew up spending a lot of time in her parents’ garden and truly enjoys the work that goes into making such an immense project an overwhelming success.
For Brooks it’s not about making money or even community appreciation. Her biggest concern is helping the neighborhood she lives in and educating people about their food.