top of page

Working To Help Solve Food Insecurity: Charley Fisher & The Urban Garden Project

 "Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream." ~ Debby Boone


Heirloom Beans

Based in New Caney, Texas, Charley Fisher is a writer, avid gardener, seed saver, and founder of The Urban Garden Project, which led her to do something special for the gardening and farming communities across Houston, Texas. What began as a hobby for Charley, during the COVID-19 pandemic grew into a community groundswell to help solve food insecurity. She helped others grow food in their homes, front yards, local gardens, and schools, making a difference during a time of disparity.


Charley has always collected and saved heirloom seeds, starting when she was a little girl, learning from her grandmother and then her mother. Her passion is supporting community through food and farming. Her mission is simple: “to help local residents gain the knowledge they need to secure a food supply for their families.” 


Charley Fisher UGP

The Urban Garden 

Hosting gardening workshops, courses, seed saving, and urban farming - Charley is a dedicated Seed Saver and Food Mover in the Southeast. Her seed catalog is choc full of heirloom beans, tomatoes, peppers, and flowers, with names like The Kentucky Wonder Bush Bean. A bush bean variety matures in just about 55 days.  She carries over 300 seed varieties online. Growing vegetables, grains, and fruits like Cosmic Purple Carrots and Table Queen Acorn Squash brought to life colorful gardens, the human spirit, and the love of “garden to table."


Out of the pandemic grew a movement, the genesis of The Urban Garden Project and a new identity for her - as an urban farmer and thought leader in community gardening, feeding souls and stomachs alike.  This Urban Garden project is designed to help people grow their own food, whether on the patio of a small porch or a 6-acre plot built to feed an entire neighborhood.


Charley Fisher is an educator, supporter of healthy foods, and she even helps to maintain those gardens ours when we need it the most. Her approach is consultative, developing awareness and helping to solve food insecurity using urban gardens.  She is working toward advising on where to apply for grants, developing a larger program through her company.  Recently, she attended The Katy Home & Garden Show. On May 11th, join Charley at The Plant Market at the Garden. 


Urban Garden Project

Mapping Local Grants: Urban Gardens & Grant Development 

Founded in 1924, The Garden Club of Houston, a local philanthropic organization responsible for researching and learning more about community gardening and riparian projects, each year offers grant development and education resources for valuable community projects that enhance farming and gardening education, environmental landscapes, library donations, and civic improvement. 


Each year in June, The Garden Club of Houston opens grant applications to local community organizations with a registered 501(c)(3), and priority is given to organizations located in Houston. There is no application process, per se, but the Executive Summary, project description, and overall proposal must include seven elements to be considered for a grant. The grant funding is not made to an operating budget or endowment fund. They are made directly available to the organization for project-specific fund caches. Follow up with their website to better understand application criteria, and look for the @ForagingandFarming YouTube Shorts for instructions and How-tos.  Please contact Judy Lee, Chair, Community Contributions Committee, The Garden Club of Houston @ GCHoustonCCC@gmail.com


The Texas Farm Bureau is now accepting applications through the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Project (Texas NRCS) for up to $4,000 for a community garden and $6,500 for a seasonal high tunnel. $3000 grant funding opportunities are also available to establish Monarch Butterfly Gardens. 


Please note the opportunity number is USDA-NRCS-TX-UCP-18-01, and the title is Texas NRCS Urban Conservation Project. Applicants can also enter the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 10.902 to search for this grant. For more information, contact Bertha T. Venegas at (830) 249-3508, extension 103. Once you enter the application portal grants.gov, go to “How To Apply for Grants” and follow the protocol and education videos. In addition, look for the @ForagingandFarming YouTube Shorts for instructions and “How To’s.” 


Finally, when it comes to urban farming, Houston’s Parks and Recreation Department offers a solution to the city's land shortage. They founded a collaborative program called The Urban Gardening Program, which allows any person or organization to adopt a SELECT piece of land. Along with the assistance of the Houston Parks and Recreation administrator, the urban garden manager will oversee a project on that select piece of land and sign a contract with the city of Houston to only garden or farm on the prescribed plot of land. If you are interested in becoming involved with an existing garden or have any concerns, please e-mail theurbangardener@houstontx.gov.  Look for the @ForagingandFarming YouTube Shorts for instructions and How-tos. 



PLOT LOCATIONS

Burnett-Bayland Park - 6000 Chimney Rock, 77081

Cloverland Park – 11800 Scott, 77047

Freed Park - 6818 Shady Villa, 77055

Herman Brown Community Garden and Fruit Orchard 400 Mercury, 77013

Independence Heights Park - 601 East 35th, 77022

Levy Park - 3801 Eastside, 77098 (Closed until further notice due to construction)

MacGregor Park - 5225 Calhoun 77021

Mandell Park (Meredith Gardens) - 1500 Richmond Avenue, 77098  

Metropolitan Multi-Service Center - 1475 West Gray, 77019

Nellie Keyes Park - 801 Lester, 77007

Shady Lane Park – 10220 Shady Lane, 77093

Sunnyside Park - 3502 Bellfort, 77051


Grants - Charley

Start Community Gardens With Crowdfunding

If the idea of applying for grants is daunting, or luck isn’t on your side regarding funding, the list of crowdfunding sources is abundant. One organization that strikes a chord is Seed Money, a non-profit founded on the premise of raising charitable donations to, in turn, donate to other non-profits to start and sustain food and community garden projects. Each year, they run a seed money challenge, open to any food garden in the world.  Challenge Grants are valued between $100-$1000. Annually, they help over 450 garden projects with training in online outreach, free crowdfunding tools and support, 351 challenge grants, and 312 online garden planning grants! Check out their 2023 Annual Report


The City of Houston also offers a Matching Grant Program sponsored by The Department of Neighborhoods.  For more information on all Texas Grants, Click the link to The Texas Grant Watch. To find out how to fill out grant applications and where they are located or to receive help on project ideas, click the link to @ForagingandFarming


Urban Garden Project









24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page