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Philanthropy Focus – Heart & Soil People’s Garden Visit

I’m so grateful to report on my recent and lovely visit to the Heart & Soil People’s Garden in Central Phoenix.
3 women look at swiss chard growing in an outdoor garden

Engaging directly with our Foundation’s nonprofit partners is invaluable and incredibly heartwarming to me as a philanthropist. I’m so grateful to report on my recent and lovely visit to the Heart & Soil People’s Garden in Central Phoenix. I felt both rejuvenated and inspired as I left the garden, and I learned so much that I can’t wait to share with you all.

Two women smile while holding a juice bottle

My visit was led by local rockstar and small business advocate, Kimber Lanning, who is the Founder and CEO of Local First Arizona (LFAZ). The garden is run by LFAZ in collaboration with various community partners. LFAZ is not only the largest coalition of small businesses in North America, it is a force of innovation working to cultivate a new generation of entrepreneurs in Arizona. We are proud to support programs like Fuerza Local, Restaurant Start Up Bootcamp, and more through The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. Shout out to Keosha Hooks, LFAZ entrepreneur and owner of Fresh Peak Natural Juices, who provided refreshing relief from the heat during my visit with her delicious juices!

Two women look at plants growing in an outdoor garden

Also an integral part of the visit was the garden’s Founder and Director, Nika Forte, who lives the garden’s mission each day, grounded by her experience in sustainable agriculture, beekeeping, and community empowerment. The Heart & Soil People’s Garden is intentionally located within one of Phoenix’s food deserts where there is little access to fresh, healthy food, or even a full-sized grocery store. The garden is meant to help alleviate this issue by bringing women (particularly women of color) to the garden to grow their own produce to share with their families and the surrounding community – all while gaining valuable skills. It was a privilege to meet and hear the stories of six women who currently grow onsite at the garden, each of whom had a unique perspective on how this small area of land has such a big impact on the community at large. I was hanging on their every word as we walked amongst the towering sunflowers and bountiful swiss chard.

I want to extend a “thank you” from the bottom of my heart to each woman I met during my visit. Thank you for sharing your oasis of healing and health with me. It’s obvious to me now that The Heart & Soil People’s Garden is a great deal more than a place where food is grown; it is a hub for education, empowerment, safety, health, and belonging that I’m honored to have witnessed firsthand. Until we meet again!