Project Roots is supporting the people experiencing homelessness and those with food insecurities by feeding them from local community gardens and mobile kitchen services across Phoenix, AZ. The nonprofit, co-founded in 2019 by Bridget Pettis of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and her partner Dionne Washington, aims to educate the community about growing healthy and nutritious food. It offers space in various local gardens and educational programs for youth and adults.
The organization has numerous programs, including the Garden Box Program, a box with everything a family needs to start growing vegetables and other plants at home, and the CSA Box Project, a service that sends seasonal produce through the mail. Produce is also available in parts of the metro area through a seasonal bag delivery service.
One of Projects Roots’ main goals is to educate the community on growing gardens. The garden sites are easily accessible, with two locations in south Phoenix and one at Agave Farms in the central part of the city.
Their Kids Class Project starts young, offering elementary-school-aged children an opportunity to learn about where food comes from and how to eat healthily and locally. Additionally, kids may bring home plants to grow in their backyards.
For co-founder Pettis, Project Roots is about more than growing healthy food. It promotes and empowers a holistic lifestyle that leads to physical, mental, emotional, and social health for individuals and communities. It’s the true heart of its mission. In fact, Project Roots’ core is a Wellness Collective that offers regular free yoga classes. As a professional basketball player, Pettis can readily share tips on how to take care of your body.
“… It’s not as overwhelming as people seem to make it be,” she said. “ But the pandemic affected us in a very big way … with 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 people are being more aware that it’s a wise time to eat healthier.”
Project Roots is volunteer-driven, with people helping with programs, tending the gardens, and running the soup kitchens. But for Pettis, the nonprofit is most importantly about nourishing a community in need.
“It’s important that we learn how to love each other again and bring health and wellness to us,” she said. “ It’s about getting us back together, feeling more comfortable and whole and happy again with each other.”