Participants broadly discussed the challenge of engaging low-income in their respective communities. They were also concerned whether communities are connecting with the food grown. Some models return food to the low-income harvesters and others donate to food banks. Participation can be challenging if there is a lack of time and resources to be spent growing food. Some people may also feel intimidated about growing food, because they lack the education to be involved. Others may feel they are getting more from processed foods, because there is greater flavor and sense of satiation. A second challenge is that “if it’s fresh, it’s strange.” People tend to be less familiar with fresh produce today.
Most importantly, community organizers need to have a pulse on what kind of food and activity their community desires. These responses should guide programs and efforts. Several participants noted that they had conducted surveys to help identify those answers in their community. Suggested strategies for further engagement:
It is important to be part of the community and engage in it. It is also equally important to understand the culture of community and build/cultivate leadership.
The group saw transportation as a major barrier towards engaging low-income in harvesting outside residential areas.