We’re excited to announce a pilot project running this summer between Fernwood NRG and Iyé Creative!

›› Jesse Wallis

Iyé Creative is a social enterprise that works with communities to restore our connection and relationship to the land. This is done through identifying systemic issues and addressing structural barriers to accessing land and nutritious food, and by creating alternative systems of mutual collaboration to advance the concerns of food security.

The Good Food Box offers weekly boxes of high-quality, seasonal, and locally grown produce. However, there’s a growing recognition of the need to enhance the program’s inclusivity by incorporating more culturally diverse foods.

In 2023, Iyé conducted a survey ‘Culturally Relevant Crops for our Communities’. Iyé says, “We have come to understand that many communities face multiple intersecting barriers to accessing local, nutrient-dense, and culturally significant foods, and that this has important implications for understanding overall health and wellbeing.”

An infographic titled "What We Heard: Culturally Relevant Crops Representations." 

There is a circular graph titled "Kinds of vegetables," with its categories being 'herbs and medicinal plants,' 'leafy greens,' 'legumes,' 'root/tuber vegetables,' 'peppers and spices,' 'fruits used as vegetables,' and 'fruit.'

The categories are broken up into lists of crops in those categories, including the following:

Leafy greens - collared greens, amaranth, malabar spinach, gai lan, bok choy, yu choy, and perilla leaves.

legumes - black eyed peas.

Root/tuber vegetables - cassava / cassava leaves, jicama, camas.

Peppers and spices - khatta bhaji, curry leaves, chiles, scotch bonnet peppers.

Fruits used as vegetables - okra, plantain, eggplant, brandywine tomatoes.

Fruit - huckleberries, salmon berries, dunks.

Herbs and medicinal plants - hibiscus, tulsi, blackstone flower, tobacco, sage, neem, sweetgrass, kapok buds, moringa.

This pilot aims to better serve the diverse needs of the community across the region. We will be working with local farmers to bring the crops outlined in the survey to the Good Food Box this summer, from Collard Greens and Callaloo, to Epazote, Chickpeas and Red Kuri Squash. Big shout out to the growers who will be ­experimenting to grow these crops including FED Urban Agriculture, FarmFolk CityFolk, Farm or Die, North Star Organics, Harvest and Share, The Giving Garden, Tito Farm, and The Plot Market Garden.

Learn more about the project at @thegoodfoodbox. Read more about Iyé Creative’s research at iyeherstories.com/community-based-research.