TUGI: The Urban Garden Initiative

— Written By Elexys Thomas and last updated by
en Español / em Português

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Low-income youth are more likely to face a variety of issues during some of their most formative years. These adversities can impact social and emotional development, education, and overall quality of health. Urban gardening has become an effective method for providing not only food to this population, but also networking and volunteering opportunities.

In an effort to learn more about urban gardening and it’s benefit for low-income youth and communities we reached out to Zofi Sanders, director of partnerships for The Urban Gardening Initiative (TUGI). TUGI is a 501(c)3 dedicated to decreasing the effects that food insecurity can have on low-income youth. With over 60 chapters worldwide, the youth-run organization connects younger generations with environmental education materials, access to foods, alongside volunteering and leadership opportunities.

hands on TUGI - urban gardening

Hands-on TUGI project in real-time.

Zofi discusses the organizations value of creativity in bringing larger scale farms to cities in need. She also gives some insight on how the TUGI initiative began, her views on what it means to be an activist, the impacts of COVID-19 on the organization as a whole as well as how the organization contributes to youth’s social development. We ultimately learned more about TUGI, the concept of urban gardening, and how individuals/organizations can become more involved.

To learn more about this “by youth, for youth” non-profit check out the TUGI website, Instagram and YouTube

Listen to the full episode (on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and anywhere you get your podcasts!) and check out our Questions for Extended Dialogue to reflect on urban gardening and its benefit for youth.

Questions for Extended Dialogue 

  1. What are some benefits “by youth, for youth” organizations/initiatives have or could have in your community?
  2. Zofi mentions the importance of “creativity in how we view gardening” for the TUGI initiative. What does gardening mean to you? What do you think it means for others in food-insecure communities?
  3. What does the term environmental education encompass? Does the definition from person to person or community to community?
  4. Urban gardening is a fruitful activity in many populations. What other populations in your community could benefit socially, emotionally, or health-wise from urban gardening?