The Harvest Lab is a project centered around inclusive farming committed to uprooting racism, sexism, and climate inequality, to grow food sovereignty in the 43609 and 43607 neighborhoods in Toledo, Ohio. In 43609, there is a 40-minute walk to the nearest grocery store starting at the neighborhood, which is an injustice. We grow and distribute vegetables to challenge food apartheid. We build inclusive farming structures to soften the impact of climate change and grow plants that bloom the neighborhoods' ecosystem. With deep reverence for the wisdom of older adults, we bring diverse and multigenerational communities together to share skills on sustainable practices, Earth building, health, and environmental justice, especially for those who have trouble bending, standing, or other unique abilities such as sensory.
In 2020, The Harvest Doctor started Inclusive Harvests, which provided free ADA-compliant raised garden beds. We worked with various non-profits in Toledo, Ohio, to identify potential gardeners using wheelchairs and other mobility tools. This program is very successful, but we noticed limited number of ADA-compliant gardening spaces where people can farm. There is a local ADA-compliant park space, but it is a 2 1/2 hour walk from the neighborhoods we serve and it is not a farm. In response to this disparity, we seek to (re) imagine, transform, and build an ADA-compliant urban farm, making farming accessible for all people with a diverse set of abilities.
The Harvest Lab embraces Crenshaw's (1989) theory, intersectionality to educate community and policy brokers about the connection among environmental racism, sexism, (dis)ability, climate change, and sustainability. The Harvest Lab recognizes that gardening and other forms of Earth care are intersecting issues that make women's experiences unique. For instance, women of color are disproportionately victims of unstable weather patterns, physical (dis)abilities, food insecurity, concern with energy sustainability, and more. Taken together, this supports our mission to listen and care for our ancestors, especially women, on topics concerning the health, environmental, and social justice emergencies.
We look to scholars and activists to articulate our deep connection to the Earth: from the herbal practices of Harriet Tubman, slave garden plots, growing indigenous Earth practices, Alice Walker’s Mother’s Gardens, and the brilliance of today’s Black and Brown growers to raise awareness about reparations and climate change in the form of food and climate justice workshops for college students and neighbors, ADA-compliant raised garden beds for households living under food apartheid, and environmental policy education for public decision-makers.