Food Independence during COVID


So COVID has been here for a while and well some people have found very different ways to spend their stimulus check. Spirit Mike from Tampa decided to use his COVID-19 stiumlus check to start a community garden out of his yard. He has named his garden the New World Growers. He grows a variety of food items about noticing people fighting over household basics in the stores.

“If the stores don’t have food, what am I going to do? I don’t know how to hunt. At that time I didn’t know how to fish,” he said. “I didn’t know anybody that grew anything or had the knowledge to grow anything.” Spirit Mike had looked into gardening before, but now he had the time to work on doing this the right way.

He started with a tomato plant and did some research on the internet on gardening.  He got supplies and lots of advice from A Land of Delight Natural Farm in Plant City. He learned that he could purchase plants with food stamps.  This was a game changer. Why buy food when you can buy a food source?  If you could use food stamps to buy your plants you can continue to get food and fewer people will need government assistance.  “If I can use my food stamps to get an orchard, then I could use that orchard money to get off food stamps and survive,” said Spirit Mike.

Spirit Mike’s real name is Michael Chaney. He started a GoFundMe page which is already over $4800 of its $20,000 goal. A representative from CFLPoliticalVoice called Mr. Chaney by phone and asked directly what does he want to use the money for. He stated that he wanted to expand his garden to provide an independent black owned, total organic and local urban neighborhood food farm.  He wants to expand with an aquaponics system which grows food at a faster rate and adds automation to reduce the labor requirements. He said he needs chicken processing equipment and storage system for the fruit and vegetable. Finally some of the money would be used for advertising where and how you can use your foodstamps to purchase fruit and vegetable trees.  He wants to ensure his neighborhood never has a hungry soul again.

When asked, Chaney said that moringas are still his favorite plant.  “If you were stranded somewhere and all you have is this and water you would not only survive, you would thrive,” Chaney said. “I don’t work out. All I did was add this to my diet and add flax seed fiber and I lost 65 lbs.” He hopes one day to get a few acres in east Hillsborough.  But if he does get to his goal he stated that he would still keep the first garden in his neighborhood.

“If all of your successful people move out of a community and all you have is the dredges, what do the kids have to look up to?” he said. “So I’m staying. I’m gonna get that land but I’m still gonna stay because the kids need a positive role model to look at. They need a place.”

So far the garden features moringas, mustard greens, collard greens, lemon, yucca, lettuce, sugar cane, ghost peppers and so much more. There is even a chicken coop with nine hens producing eggs every week.  Any food waste is used for compost.  “I do biointensive gardening, which means planting as much as you can in a small space,” explained Chaney. “I specifically picked these types of fruits [dwarf plants]because they grow fruit fast.” He says he gives away his harvest so that the people will get a fell for the quality of plants.

Chaney said his urban neighborhood welcomes his garden onto the block, and he’s happy to be a part of it and inspiring others to grow their own food. If you want to learn more and learn from the man himself.  you can visit his garden at 2915 East 23rd Ave in Tampa Florida by the rail road tracks.


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