PHOENIX — A year ago, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep its way across the United States, Bridget Pettis, launched Project Roots, a nonprofit organization in South Phoenix focused on community farming and showing people how to grow their own food.
Her all-volunteer organization has two community farms in South Phoenix and at Agave Farms in Central Phoenix.
As part of their outreach efforts, they help provide food, food boxes, and hygiene items to those in need and those experiencing homelessness.
Like other nonprofits, the pandemic impacted Project Roots' efforts, too.
"We had a soup kitchen that was being ran out of a restaurant. That restaurant got hit with the situation. We were in there after hours using the kitchen. So, that took away our soup kitchen for a while, but we just reestablished getting a new soup kitchen at First Phoenix," she said, referring to First Community Kitchen in Mesa, Arizona.
She said the pandemic has also renewed her mission to bring awareness to growing your own food and the type of food that people are using to nourish their bodies.
"This has affected us in a very big way, but not also just a need, but an awareness that this is the type of food we need to be eating right now. Natural food that's coming from the ground. We don't put anything in the food to grow it. It's just naturally grown. And just people being more aware that it's a wise time to eat healthier," she said.
Pettis knows about the importance of nourishing the body. She's a professional athlete and played for the Phoenix Mercury in the 1990s.
"I think the surprising thing is that it's not as overwhelming as people seem to make it be," she said of farming.
Volunteers are at the farms a couple of days a week. They also sell produce boxes at local farmers markets for those looking for farm-fresh herbs, lettuce, and vegetables.
To volunteer, donate, or see where their next event is, visit www.projectrootsaz.org.