iGrow South City, The Aetna Foundation Spotlight Award

By| Lauren Coleman

iGrow “Whatever You Like”, a youth empowerment and urban agriculture entrepreneurship program of the Tallahassee Food Network, was named a finalist in the “Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge.” In January, iGrow South City was given notification that they are a part of the top 10 community health programs nationwide that are receiving a newly-launched “Spotlight Award” through the Aetna foundation.

The top 10 spotlight awardees will receive $25,000 to go towards the support of their health programs. iGrow South City grew 100 pounds of fresh produced and disbursed it throughout the community, the amount the food that was grown and disbursed feed one-third of the community.

The money that was received from the Aetna foundation will be a great benefit for the iGrow South City. It will allow them to further develop and expand the iGrow “Whatever You Like” youth development model. “We are excited and thrilled to have been recognized for such an innovative community health project!” said Miaisha Mitchell, Co-Founder of Tallahassee Food Network.

The health project has allowed Tallahassee to be recognized on a national level. Others will understand the importance for the community gardens around the nation. Community gardens give the chance for residents be involved in where their food is coming from. “It about creating a space for enterprising compositing, urban farms, farmers markets, it’s broaden the conversation,” said Bakari McClendon. It brings a sense of awareness to their health, the health of their food and the action behind making the fresh food.  

After the Aetna foundation recognition, iGrow is finding ways to utilize the award money for the expansion of their program. Youth programs play a major role with the iGrow communities, they have ideas for different ways to use the money towards youth programs.

A partner with iGrow South City, the Florida Health Department will help them figure out ways to use their money. “Part of it (the money) will be used for our youth, we have so much youth volunteers, we would like to set a curriculum in place to give our youth some real-world experience,” said Leigh Miles, Health Educator for the Florida Department of Health.

The money will also help provide with more the items that they need to continue with the program. iGrow and their partners will always in the help from their surrounding communities to keep up with their success within the community. Anyone can contribute to their work by sharing the news about the Tallahassee Food Network with their friends and family.

They need the community to voice their support at the local and state levels for urban farming as a business and community development strategy that also contributes to the resilience of our region.

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