growing Food Growing Hope

CMEF partners with DCCCA First Step at Lake View


With eight years of garden success, CMEF launched the Growing Food, Growing Hope Garden Project in collaboration with DCCCA's First Step at Lake View. 

Since launching in 1999, CMEF (with support from our sister organization, The Merc Co+op) has overseen a variety of initiatives to connect youth and their families to the foods they eat. We focus on promoting personal health, strengthening community, and supporting a sustainable and local food system.

The Growing Food, Growing Hope garden at First Step furthers our focus on well being and a stronger community to a new, targeted population: women and their children in recovery from substance abuse. 

This year, the focus has been the physical establishment of the space. The Growing Food, Growing Hope garden is a daily source of beauty - a fully-developed, inviting place that speaks to healthy food production, physical activity, and  reflection and healing.


Throughout this first season, children at First Step’s day care center visited the garden once per week to harvest and play. Women living at the facility were also able to join in garden work days and helped plant, harvest, and weed.  The hope is to expand the project so more residents can benefit from therapeutic, hands-on experience in the garden in addition to enjoying the bounty in their dining room. In 2018, over 600 pounds of produce were utilized in the First Step kitchen.

 Launching this project creates a unique way to support access to healthy foods by nourishing the bodies and spirits of the women and children who grow, water, weed, and eat the fruit (and veggies) of their efforts. Partnering with First Step at Lake View extends the expertise of CMEF to a new population in need, offering skills, knowledge, and hands-on experiences that provide practical skills to carry with them into their new future.

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