This Women’s History Month we honor women who are making a difference in our communities. We’d like to shed light on two women leading Health in the Hood, an important partners of ours – Founder Asha Loring and Opa Locka Community Garden Manager Corine Newsome. Health in the Hood is a non-profit which began as a passion and is now on a mission to end food disparity in South Florida, striving to create a comprehensive health and wellness environment for urban communities that don’t have access to natural food supply.
Asha has made a conscious effort to create eight farms in South Florida with most of them in the northwest quadrant of Liberty City, Overtown, Miami Gardens, Pinewood, and Little Haiti, and one more farm they’re currently building. She noticed the need for healthy and natural food sources in these urban communities, which led her to educate families about these programs.
“I was so confused as to why I could go to the gym, stop by Publix and get healthy food but people who were just a mile away from where I worked, exercise, and live didn’t have that same access,” said Asha.
Health in the Hood is the answer to food insecurity, as a local 501c(3) that builds vegetable gardens in food deserted neighborhoods throughout the 326 food deserts in South Florida. The program receives land donations and converts them into various vegetable gardens. To maintain the gardens, they hire local residences in the neighborhood who serve as great educators for students and families to connect with their food source, learn about nutrition, and how to grow their own food.
Being a women entrepreneur is extremely rewarding for Asha, as she mentions, “we have so much work as women so to navigate through makes me feel very proud. Makes me feel like my story can inspire other women who want to suppress those barriers.” 90% of the garden managers are women who nurture the plants in the gardens.
I think it’s about being resilient, being valuable, and being the magical powerful beings that we (women) are by nature that allow us to break those barriers and to continue to fight for equality and what better way to do it than by putting our steaks in the ground and making history everywhere we can because that’s what we are here to do I think,” said Asha Loring.
Corine Newsome joined the Health in the Hood program in 2013 and lives in the Opa-Locka neighborhood managing their garden. Her involvement began when she saw a garden in need of maintenance by her home. She began to pull out the weeds and put the vegetables to the side. One day Asha came by the garden and saw her maintaining it, and that is when she asked Corine to join Health in the Hood.
“Community is more than where you stay. I’ve always seen my neighborhood as where I reside. But to really be in the garden, you run into issues like watering the grounds. For the neighbors to pay attention and connect the water hoses to help me water the garden. Community is unity more than anything and it really makes me look at my surrounding area differently,” said Corine
Corine and the Health in the Hood organization are breaking the stereotype of what a typical gardener looks like. She along with her team of volunteers is taking risks and going for it when it comes to planting. She’s a big advocate in getting out there and doing something to help grow the community.