The historic district of Overtown is already known for its rich Black culture, popular Soul Food restaurants, and dope event venues, and now they can add a state of the art aqua hub and community garden to the mix. Overtown residents will now have access to new facilities thanks to the hard work of Touching Miami With Love.
The Miami-based non-profit community organization launched the Templeton Family Foundation Miami Aqua Hub on Wednesday, July 19th located at 711 NW 6th Ave, Miami, Fla.
The Aqua Hub features a community garden, emphasizing aquaponics and hydroponics techniques. Aquaponics and hydroponics techniques are the growth of water life and plants in one environment. According to the website Go Green Aquaponics, in aquaponics, the nitrifying bacteria convert fish waste into nutrients for the plants. For growth, plant roots absorb these nutrients. In exchange, the fish receive clean, filtered water from the plant roots. These were aimed at fostering sustainable and innovative agricultural practices to broaden the impact in the community through aqua culture techniques.
Angelica Rueda, Fundraising and Communication Coordinator for Touching Miami With Love, shared that in order to create a sense of community and promote sustainability, the organization decided to open up their garden to the public during the harvest season, which will be this Fall.
“This means that anyone from the community will be able to come in and access the fresh produce that we grow. To make this possible, we will invite community members to be a part of the entire gardening process – from seeding and planting to growing and harvesting,” said Rueda to Hy-Lo News. “By involving them in every step of the way, they will develop a deeper connection with the food they consume and gain a better understanding of where it comes from.”
Once the harvest season arrives, community members will have free access to all the fresh produce that has been grown in the garden. Additionally, they are also excited about starting work on the Aqua Hub in the Fall, which is not yet open to the public. However, when the aqua hub is ready to be launched the organization will begin hiring for staff positions and will use Indeed and on-sight interviews to vet candidates.
“Our goal is to hire from the surrounding community once the jobs become available,” said Rueda.
This project is a collaborative effort between Touching Miami With Love, IDEAS for Us and Aqua For The Culture, with instrumental support from House District 109 State Representative Ashley Gantt, City of Miami Commissioner Christine King, and other community partners.
In an Instagram post, State Representative Gantt, shared that these community gardens are designed to not only reduce food miles but also to improve air quality, and enhancing biodiversity, all while creating green spaces that beautify and enhance the overall quality of the community.
“It was an honor to see the vision come to reality in its first iteration. I’m excited to grow with this initiative along with the food that will be produced,” said Gantt.
The state rep also share her motivation to support this project.
“The inspiration is to create sustainable jobs with future progress in mind while addressing the food desert and lack of fresh, healthy options in our communities,” said Gantt to Hy-Lo News. “Although the allocation of funds for this project was vetoed by the Governor, I look forward to working in this upcoming session to bring funds home to support this innovative initiative.”
The community gardens and aqua hub is being financially supported by the Overtown Children and Youth Coalition and a private family foundation. However organizers are actively seeking funding to sustain the project.
“The organizations and public officials supporting us understand the importance of providing sustainable food options in historically marginalized communities. They want to invest in the community and believe in the importance of job training opportunities for our future generations. And currently, they are supporting us by advocating and seeking financial support for this initiative, ” said Rueda.
In 2012 the Overtown Children and Youth Coalition was formed by the collaboration of community based non-profit organizations such as The Overtown Community Urgent, Inc., Overtown Youth Center, Touching Miami with Love, Lotus House, and Dress for Success with the support of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency and City of Miami District 5 City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.
Touching Miami With Love is an organization that serves the community with the mission to inspire, educate, and empower by sharing their love for Christ through resources, community services, volunteering, programs, donations, and events. Their latest project, the new community gardens, is a prime example of Touching Miami With Love’s commitment to making a positive impact on the community.
They plan to open more aqua hubs in South Dade and Miami Gardens with funding assistance from other organizations.
For more information, visit Touching Miami With Love’s Instagram page. Check out highlights below from the launch event.