Urban Roots Farm w Clouds 2013  Many clients depend on ASA’s Helping Hands Food Bank to receive food they may not otherwise have access to. So when Urban Roots, a local farming and community outreach organization, began donating fresh produce to our Food Bank in 2011, we jumped at the opportunity to partner with them.

Food Bank Manager Julie especially loves the variety of food they offer: “Urban Roots provides healthy unique produce that you wouldn’t be able to find in your local grocery store, with names like crazy cucumber or pattypan squash. Clients get excited about the food they’re eating, and they get to try something new. It’s also produce that ASA would not be able to purchase at a local vendor or afford otherwise.”

carrot bunchUrban Roots wanted to partner with ASA because we serve a unique population in Austin. Urban Roots also appreciated that ASA not only provides nutrition supplementation for our clients, but a range of other comprehensive services to help individuals with HIV and AIDS live healthy lives in our community. Farm Director Shirene Garcia explains, “This way, our donations of produce would be among many other things supporting the clients at ASA to make healthy choices.”

When asked about Urban Roots’ experience partnering with ASA, Shirene said her favorite part about donating was hearing the stories of people’s reactions to the produce. “Last year, we donated some Suyo Long Cucumbers, which are an Asian variety that grow 1-2 feet long and sometimes in funny shapes or curlicues. [Julie] told me about how everyone who saw the cucumbers got really excited, and they were talking about them for the whole week! I love introducing people to new veggies and being able to do this through ASA and our other partner organizations.”

baby beets3Shirene also loves working with the people at ASA. “The team is obviously very committed to their job and also has a good time doing it. I really appreciate how passionate the ASA staff and volunteers are about their work, and about getting these veggies to your clients!”

The team at Urban Roots also has a personal connection to HIV and AIDS advocacy. Tasha Banks, the Communications and Development Associate, shared her story with us:

I first became aware of HIV and AIDS when I was in high school. This was back in the mid-90s. Madonna was on MTV telling everyone to be safe and the news had almost daily stories on the scary new epidemic sweeping the nation. I knew that not only was it a debilitating disease, but also that there was an intense stigma attached to it. Part of the curriculum of my high school was that volunteer work was mandatory to graduate. I sought out opportunities to learn more about HIV, bring awareness, and reduce stigma. I volunteered at the AIDS Quilt in Dallas, did the AIDS Walk, but the most impactful and life changing was volunteering at Bryan’s House.

You can learn more about the incredible work Urban Roots is doing in the community at www.urbanrootsatx.org.