PHX Renews

PHX Renews

On September 21st, 2013 an organization called PHX Renews had what they called, an activation day. On this day, community members came together to rejuvenate a vacant lot on the northeast corner of Indian School Road and Central Ave, In Phoenix, Arizona.  This vacant lot, owned by Barron Collier Companies, is located at Steele Indian School Park.

Students from Barrett, the Honors College at the Arizona State University, Downtown Campus, as well as students from different high schools in the Phoenix Metro Area, including my Alma Mater, Xavier College Preparatory participated in the activation day. Some of these students worked with Hugo Medina, a local artist, to create a mural to make the space more visually appealing.


Mural that students created with Hugo Medina

In addition to the mural, other volunteers helped to create community gardens in different areas on the lot including one organization, The International Rescue Committee. The IRC has their New Roots Garden ready for community volunteers to help tend to it. According to Nicky Walker, the Development Manager for the IRC,  they are “hoping to grow” into 15 acres.

She says that the garden is helpful for the refugees. They “have amazing knowledge about farming” says Walker. The garden is a part of Community Supported Agriculture, a program in which people can purchase memberships to receive fresh produce grown in the local garden. The refugees also sell some of the produce grown in the gardens at local farmer’s markets. Walker says that biggest thing they need right now is resources, “we have people who know and can work the land.”


Another organization that was a part of PHX Renews was the Valley Permaculture Alliance. Gail LaTour, A Valley Permaculture Alliance ambassador, said that their organization took part in PHX Renews  to inform people about their organization. She explained that they were trying to teach people “how to not depend on everyone else,” they want to teach people skills related to farming, such as chicken raising and basic cooking skills. The VPA has classes, training and demonstrations to help educate people.

The Valley Permaculture Alliance has many different events, including the upcoming Food Day and Tour De Coops. Food Day is “a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food” according to their website.

PHX Renews is an Part of a movement called Keep Phoenix Beautiful. This event brought community members together to help create a space for urban farming. Space in the community garden is now available for rent and I encourage people of the Phoenix Metro area to take part in this movement. For photos of PHX Renews check out my Flickr album.


3 thoughts on “PHX Renews

  1. Great post! I actually had a chance to interview Tom Waldeck, the executive director at Keep Phoenix Beautiful, for an article recently. The project is a fantastic example of sustainable and community-oriented development in downtown. When I talked to Tom, I was amazed to learn that almost 43 percent of land in Phoenix in classified as vacant. Since that conversation, I can’t help but notice the excessive number of vacant lots I pass daily. The idea of communities working together on a project like this is quite inspiring. Not only has the PHX Renews effort filled one of the countless vacant lots, but this project will continue to give back to the communities that helped create it. Also, great job with the pictures 😉

  2. I had no idea this was a regularly occurring event! It is great to see so many people coming together to help give back to the community and the environment. Hopefully there will always be a vacant lot to rejuvenate. I would rather see more lots filled with murals and community gardens, than skyscrapers and businesses. Do you have any recommendations for someone who wants to start a garden in their own backyard? What are some easy plants to maintain for beginners?

  3. I’ve always wanted to try gardening but I’ve never had much of a green thumb. I love that people are working to teach people. I also love the incorporation of a mural into the garden. It reminds me of the garden in Harriet the Spy.

    What are some of the challenges to developing community gardens specifically in Phoenix? I am not an Phoenix native, if that isn’t obvious, and I can imagine that the heat doesn’t make for a very rich growing environment.

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