New Community Garden Organization Fights Food Injustice in the Garden State

By Guest Author James Allan

Systemic discrimination against racial minorities is deeply ingrained in almost all aspects of life in the United States. From policing to housing to education, it’s clear that ‘equal protection’ on paper doesn’t guarantee ‘equal protection’ in real life for Black people, indigenous people, and people of color. A new mutual aid organization is seeking to draw attention to an easily overlooked place where systemic discrimination can rear its ugly head; your dinner plate.

Common Food for Common Good (CF4CG) is a recently formed mutual aid organization striving to fight food injustice by creating local and sustainable community gardens. Founded in Bergen County, NJ, the organization hopes to distribute healthy, locally grown produce to those in need and decrease reliance on corporate grocery chains. In addition to cultivating land, the organization believes its mission will cultivate a sense of community and togetherness in a time where many feel left behind by inadequate responses to the Covid-19 pandemic by the federal government.

Photo/Nick Haas

The pandemic and recent economic recession has massively increased the number of Americans who lack access to sufficient and nutritious food. Specifically in New Jersey, reliance on food banks and pantries has risen exponentially since March of 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down. This is what inspired CF4CG’s founder, Nick Haas, to launch the new organization, in hopes of helping his community address the root cause of hunger and food insecurity.

Haas, an activist and founder of Ramsey Alliance for Social Equity, says his work is motivated by a very deep-rooted empathy.” In the wake of the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in the summer of 2020, Haas wanted to become more involved in combatting corporate greed, police brutality, and racial discrimination in his immediate community. Haas looked to unused lawns around Northeast New Jersey as useful resources in the fight against food injustice.

CF4CG believes growing food locally and sustainably can offset some of the environmental damage brought about by for-profit grocery stores’ wasteful packaging and high rates of carbon emissions. The organization is currently constructing two community gardens, one at Christ Community Church in Waldwick, New Jersey and the other at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Ramsey, NJ. The organization aims to have these two gardens operational within a few weeks, with more gardens to follow over the next few months. The organization plans to start distributing produce on a need basis by the end of the summer.

Although CF4CG is just getting off the ground, they have their sights set on a more ambitious goal; the establishment of a national sustainable food network to challenge corporate food production. They hope to become a model for community gardening that can be easily replicated and scaled up to create a sustainable and just alternative food system.

To stay up to date with CF4CG, you can follow them on Instagram or Facebook. They are currently looking for volunteers for garden construction, gardening, and food distribution. If you are unable to volunteer, they are also looking for donations for their Spring Fundraiser which they hope can be used to offset the high cost of lumber needed for fencing.

Common Food for Common Good believes food sovereignty and nutrition are integral components of uprooting systemic racism. This new organization demonstrates that the fight against racism must be waged on multiple fronts with a diverse set of tactics. Most importantly, however, the formation of this mutual aid organization demonstrates the importance of standing up to injustice wherever it exists.

Editor's Note: James is an aspiring journalist and media relations professional for non-profit organizations. He is currently completing his master’s degree in communication from Baylor University.