A Phoenix aquaponics garden (photo courtesy of City of Phoenix Office of Environmental Programs)

Phoenix residents interested in learning how, and receiving support, to grow their own food, can take advantage of a program offered by the City of Phoenix Office of Environmental Programs.

Through the Backyard Garden Program​, participants will receive, at no cost to them, a garden system, including training, support, and maintenance (as needed) for one year.

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds have already supplied 92 garden systems to community members in the first year. In year two, the program will provide 178 households with either a traditional raised bed garden (provided by TigerMountain Foundation), a regenerative agriculture system called a “LEHR Garden,” or an aquaponics system (provided by NxT Horizon).

“Literally I can go outside, harvest what I need, use it to cook that night. That’s really convenient and inexpensive,” said Xavier Jones, who has a city-funded aquaponics system in his backyard.

Aquaponics systems grow produce on rafts floating in water. Inside the water are fish that provide nutrients for the plants, which in turn clean the water for the fish. Jones grew more than 10 pounds of produce in the first few months.

The City is looking for passionate community members with an interest in growing food and who are willing to make a yearlong commitment to backyard gardening. Gardens will be installed in either the fall of 2022 or early spring of 2023.

“It doesn’t feel like work to me. It doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s something I’m passionate about,” said Jayleen McGehee of working in the raised bed garden that was installed in her backyard for free. “I go outside, get sun, grow things, and I provide for my family, because food is expensive right now.”

The program is for residents living in single-family homes only. Check out the application for the full requirements. Applications for the Backyard Garden Program are open until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 30.


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