By: Aissa Dearing
Ever since I can remember, my mother and I had a tradition of going grocery shopping together. Escaping the chaos at home, it was the grand excursion of the week -- we drove twenty minutes or so and spent time picking out my favorite fruits and veggies. The produce section at this particular supermarket was vast and my mother taught me exactly what to look for when picking out a particular fruit. Because of my early relationship with grocery shopping my mother insisted, I was able to gain a greater appreciation for healthy eating overall.
However, if you look inside our community of Durham, North Carolina, healthy food is difficult to access. Low-income communities of color, like mine, don’t tend to have these produce-rich filled grocery stores. Around my block, there are two tobacco stores, one gas station, and three fast-food restaurants. This visible separation is what we call food apartheid. Essentially, food apartheid is the separation of healthy and affordable food in communities of color -- considering the history of the United States. Food apartheid intersects with the issues of inadequate access to health care, mass incarceration and systemic racism. The issue of food inequity is not unique to my community; according to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are approximately 6,500 food apartheid areas across the United States.
Durham does host a weekly Farmer’s Market, which not only has the greatest selection of healthy food options -- the food is transported from local farms making it the most sustainable choice for consumption. Upon visiting this market there was a stark realization that my mother and I made. Walking past the booths the price tags listed $3.50, $5.00, $7.00...the market was full of food, just with nothing that we could afford. It’s not that people living in food apartheid areas do not want healthy, affordable options -- it’s that these options are out of our reach. Driving twenty minutes to the nearest affordable grocery store was considered convenient compared to the stores in my community.
Unlike other counties across North Carolina, Durham is in a unique position to combat food apartheid. We have an extremely diverse landscape -- from Downtown Durham to farms on the outskirts of town. By partnering local farmers with our most marginalized communities, we could expand farm sales whilst providing our most vulnerable with fresh and affordable food. This critical partnership could eliminate food apartheid in Durham.
Food equity and affordable nutrition play a defining role in health for all. There must be a local effort to ensure that our most vulnerable communities receive accessible and healthy food. It takes an intersectional lens of race, socioeconomic status, health, and sustainability to equitably improve our community.
This weekend, we were able to plant 17 trees in Red Maple Park, located in the heart of Braggtown. Braggtown is a historically black community located in North Durham, off of Old Oxford Highway. Braggtown is older than Durham -- established officially by newly freed slaves after the Civil War, but settlements in Braggtown are as old as 1781. This community has been resilient despite government disinvestment, redlining, racial segregation, and recently, gentrification. We are so happy to be working with this community to fulfill their request of fig, maple, and pecan trees in their park!
TreesDurham is so fortunate to be supporting the Black Mama's Bailout Campaign, sponsored by SONG Durham (Southerner's on New Ground). Held every year, the Black Mama's Bailout Campaign raises money to bail black mothers and caretakers out of Durham's pretrial detention facility. The cash bail system (and pretrial detention) disrupts families and has long-term rippling effects on their livelihood. Until we can abolish the cash bail system and hyper-incarceration, we must free ourselves! TreesDurham donated 50 trees (maples, crabapples and locusts) to this cause. The Black Mama's Bailout Team encouraged people to donate in exchange for a tree! So far, we've helped raise over $300 to the Bailout fund.
And you still have time! The Black Mama's Bailout Campaign will be accepting donations until Thursday, October 29th.
On Saturday October 24th, we helped SEEDS
giveaway and deliver 50 trees (figs and crabapples)
and mulch to their surrounding community! SEEDS
is a non-profit organization that seeks to create
an outlet for young people to engage in
environmental justice work! SEEDS has a food
council comprised of young people of color,
Semillas, that we specifically worked with.
We are so happy to have partners like this in
We are so excited to have built this relationship with Project BUILD! Project BUILD is a youth serving organization that works to prevent gang violence by uplifting vulnerable youth communities. Project BUILD uses a public health approach to address gang intervention. Project BUILD has recently started delivering meals to their youth -- and along with those meals, they now deliver fig trees! TreesDurham will donate 10 trees per month to Project BUILD so their young folks can get engaged in tree care!
Earlier this month, we began our first Tree Giveaway of the season with the Durham Neighbor's Free Lunch Initiative. The Durham Neighbor's Free Lunch Initiative (a partnership between local farms and Geer Street Garden) started in March to provide Durham Public Schools students and families with lunch on weekdays after the closing of schools. This initiative not only benefits students and families -- local farms no longer had to waste their produce and Geer Street Garden could re-hire some of their employees! They have provided 200 meals a day, 5 days a week for 8 months. TreesDurham gave away 50 trees (maple and crabapple) along with the lunches served on Friday, October 2nd.
We encourage you to donate to the Durham Neighbor's Free Lunch Initiative so they can continue serving our community with the genius partnership!
Update from: Bonita Green, Merrick Moore Community Center
TreesDurham was so happy to help advocate for the rezoning of Faucette Ave -- which will hopefully become the Samuel Green Sr. Community Garden. Many people were consulted and lent their expertise and time through this process. Equally as important were those that lent their voices in support of our community. Those voices really matter during these types of processes and showed each person's commitment to Merrick Moore and making our neighborhood a safe place. Those voices were heard last night in that the planning commission gave a unanimous 12-0 no vote to the rezoning at Faucette Avenue!!!
What this means: the Planning Commission is an advisory board that sends its recommendation to the City Council who makes the final decision. Generally, it takes 6 to 8 weeks for that meeting to be scheduled.
A very special thanks to Speakers and contributors:
Data Works NC - Statistical Maps
Katie Rose - Trees Durham
Rickie White - Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
John Talmadge - Bike Druham
Vannessa Mason Evans - Braggtown Assoc
Constance - Braggtown Association
Billie Dee - Braggtown Association
Ayanna Smith - Merrick Moore
Ponsella Brown - Merrick Moore
by Lynn Richardson, vice-chair, Woodcroft Eco-friendly Landscape Committee; member, New Hope Audubon Bird-friendly Habitat Committee
Fall Is for Planting
In Piedmont North Carolina, fall is the best time to add new plants to your yard. Cooler air and soil temperatures reduce stress on plants and encourage root growth. Next summer when temperatures are soaring, the larger root systems will help fall-planted trees, shrubs, perennial flowers perform better than those added in spring. For great tips on how to assess conditions in your yard and how to improve your soil, follow this link: https://chatham.ces.ncsu.edu/2017/09/fall-is-the-best-time-to-plant-trees-and-shrubs/ Plant a native plant or two this fall and increase your yard’s biodiversity!
Don’t Miss the North Carolina Botanical Garden Fall Plant Sale
Just in time for fall planting—Choose from a wide variety of southeastern native wildflowers, shrubs, trees, vines, and ferns.
Friday, September 27, 4:00-7:00 Members only plant sale preview party with 10% discount on plant purchases. Join at the door.
Saturday, September 28, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
North Carolina Botanical Garden, 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill 27517
Go Native with a Privacy Screen
by Leslie Fiddler
Do you and your neighbor share an interest in landscaping with native plants? The space between your houses offers an opportunity to remove invasive plants and plant native. Be it a privacy screen or a hedgerow, UNC-Charlotte’s Urban Institute and local landscape architect Preston Montague have suggestions. Montague suggests planting native trees (redbud, fringe tree, or dogwood) and filling in the spaces with blueberry bushes. For success follow the rule of thumb, “Right plant, right place,” and ask Woodcroft’s ARB committee for approval before planting. For information about planting a native evergreen hedge, follow this link: https://ui.uncc.edu/story/nc-piedmont-native-evergreens-better-invasive-plants
Nandina has been used as a landscape plant in the South since the 1800s. Once a staple of southern gardens and still widely cultivated, it has jumped the fence and is now invading woodlands across the Southeast, including Woodcroft.
One plant can produce hundreds of bright red berries that birds spread far and wide. The berries germinate, seedlings grow and multiply, and soon native plants that belong in our woods are displaced. Another good reason to eliminate nandina is that the fruits contain low levels of cyanide, which can kill birds who gorge themselves.
It’s easy to cut the berries off in the fall to prevent seed distribution. Just remember to do it before they’re a tempting bright red that attracts the birds! You can also find varieties that produce little or no fruit. Here’s a list: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/nandina/ .
Even better, plant a native shrub instead! Larry Mellichamp’s Native Plants of the Southeast is a fantastic guide to the 460 best native species for the Southeast. You can order it from Amazon or check it out at the Durham County Library.
How to Remove Nandina
Seedlings and small shrubs are easy to pull by hand. Waiting until after a rain makes the job easier. Larger shrubs can be dug up, although this can be difficult. The simplest way to remove full-grown shrubs is to cut them to the ground and immediately paint the stumps with concentrated Roundup (not the diluted form that is sprayed on leaves). Carefully painting it on with a small brush rather than spraying allows you to use only a small amount and limit it to a small area. Cover what’s left of the plant with a bucket for a couple of weeks until the herbicide breaks down. Cut or spray sprouts that recur.
Another good reason to remove non-native plants that produce berries: Native berries have the protein and nutrients for our native birds need; non-native berries do not. Migrating birds can starve to death with a craw full of non-native berries. Native bird superfoods include Virginia creeper, pokeberry, and viburnums.
TreesDurham is so fortunate to partner with Howard University's Day of Service to host student volunteers virtually on August 21st. Students will create infographics for TreesDurham based on the Racial History of Durham's Trees. These infographics will be utilized on our Instagram in hopes of making data on environmental equity and trees more accessible.
Howard University's Day of Service focuses on community building through either service-learning initiatives addressing: educational disparities, environmental injustices, community health disparities, housing, and food disparities, violence and police brutality, political empowerment, youth outreach, and elderly outreach.
This service-learning experience allows Howard University students to discover the power of ethical leadership and civic responsibility. This program is held in collaboration with hundreds of virtual sites across the nation.