LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In the Parkland neighborhood of West Louisville, Thomas Edison has transformed his yard into Changó Gardens.
There are Brussels sprouts growing in a high tunnel and chickens in the backyard. Flowers of all kinds are blooming in a pollinator garden in front of his home.
A few doors down in the neighborhood is Carl Gilbert’s backyard. There, you’ll find a satellite farm where Gilbert and Edison are growing sunflowers, watermelons, squash, tomatoes and more.
They share their harvest with their neighbors and friends.
“It’s a nonprofit that’s been around for a year, and the whole idea is to motivate individuals — teach and motivate individuals to grow in their backyards and use that produce to help serve folks in Louisville’s food desert in West Louisville,” said Edison.
The Louisville Urban League is one of two affiliates that were selected by the National Urban League for a USDA grant to develop a National Black Farmer Apprenticeship Program, according to the organization’s website.
Through Project Kilimo, experienced farmers and educators will serve as paid fellows. Fellows will support Black urban farmers in West Louisville by providing land access, educational opportunities and resources for growing fresh food, according to the organization.
“We want to make sure that people understand that they have a right and an access to land, to be able to grow land, to be able to commune with land, and that that is an important part of our history and our heritage, and that they shouldn’t be divorced from that simply because it was abused and misused by this country in the past,” said Louisville Urban League’s interim president and CEO Lyndon Pryor.
Gilbert said he was interested in applying for one position; he said he would like to have a bigger farm one day to possibly grow herbs and more fruits and vegetables.
While Edison and Gilbert don’t have to go far to gather something homegrown, they said they would love for the rest of the community to have access to fresh food markets without leaving the neighborhood.
The Louisville Urban League is accepting applications for up to six paid fellowship positions for the project. The deadline to apply is Friday, Sept. 15.