Local family uses urban garden to feed community, gives bags of vegetables for Back to School

Posted at 6:27 PM, Aug 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 20:58:45-04

In a neighborhood where there's more check cashing places then grocery stores, there's the Acy family and their garden.

“This is a food desert where the average corner store sells nothing but junk food," said the father, Stephen Acy.

His wife, Erika Acy, started the idea of a community urban garden after tending to dozens of fresh pots in their backyard.

“It's just something that's been in me, it was passed down from my grandmother. It's great, I love it," she said.

“It means the world to be able to come out in your backyard...and have a healthy treat for you and your children," said Stephen Acy.

For the past three years, the couple has been feeding their nine children the fresh produce from the garden that sits on South Boulevard on Cleveland’s near east side.

“We use this garden for everything from making coleslaw, to making collard greens and smoked turkey neck, to making string beans and potatoes... I wanted to create a home to whereas they could get that balance," Erika Acy said.

And now the family of 11 wants to share the fruits of their labor with the rest of the neighborhood.

“I want the community as a whole to benefit, I believe that it takes a village," said Stephen Acy.

So all summer long, they've been holding neighborhood car washes and healthy smoothie and lemonade stands to raise money for kids going back to school.

"I talk to the kids and get to see what their needs are, a lot of kids didn't have book bags, didn't have adequate school supplies for the first day," Erika Acy said.

And this weekend they'll be handing out all the book bags and school supplies they've purchased with the extra something special inside.

“They'll also be receiving a bag of fresh vegetables,” she said. “We just wanted to help out in that, and give back."

Both Erika and her husband said they hope their efforts will grow roots deep enough in the community for others to catch on.

“My hope is that from what we're doing it will be passed on, we won't be the only ones that this will have a trickle down effect," said Stephen Acy.

The family is holding the big back-to-school event this Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the garden. They'll also be giving out free haircuts for kids who may need them.