When Ivy Walls got a message that she was on Beyonce.com for winning a Black Parade Grant, she screamed with excitement. At that moment, she knew quitting her job in epidemiology to work the family farm was the right move.
The Walls family farm is in the South Houston community of Sunnyside. The predominantly Black community is classified by the federal government as a food desert – a low-income area where residents have to travel more than a mile to access a supermarket. Sunnyside residents lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and the area has been particularly hard hit during the pandemic.
Walls, whose family has been farming since the Great Depression, started growing cucumbers and okra in her parents’ backyard to pass out to her neighbors. In February, after she moved back home, her vision began to grow along with the vegetables.
“During that process, I realized how much I loved being back in the soil and working, working the earth,” Walls says. “I moved over to our family’s 5 acres.”
Her goal was to plant more leafy green plants and vegetables across the widespread land by March. However, her plans transitioned after COVID-19 spread.
In addition to lacking access to healthy food options, Sunnyside is one of Houston’s leading COVID-19 hotspots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because of her job working in a hospital and after getting COVID-19 herself, Walls realized her farm could provide the nutrition needed to help keep residents healthy during the pandemic…