JIG's future is to help young men -- middle and high-school aged -- to improve their health and success through gardening on an urban, naturally grown farm that makes locally grown, produce accessible and affordable in a food desert community.
Presently- JIG is mentoring about 8 (7AA, 1 Latino) young men 13 – 20 years old, all of whom come from disadvantaged circumstances, as they volunteer on the urban farm. JIG teaches the young men gardening skills, healthy lifestyle choices, productive work skills, entrepreneurship, and the value of community service. They attend workshops and go on field trips. JIG is growing produce on two of 19 acres, raising livestock and recycling plant bi-products for compost/fertilizer. It sells the produce in the community at a low cost and donates some to local soup kitchens. It plans to expand to sell produce through farmer’s markets, grocery stores and community supported agriculture (CSAs).
Jackson's inner city population struggles with fatherlessness, crime and obesity. Tre' Roberts, founder of Jackson Inner-city Gardeners (JIG), thinks the somewhat unlikely solution of gardening is the perfect way to mitigate these problems.
JIG's missions to create a sustainable food system while developing youth. Students who work in the JIG organic farm learn work skills and life skills from mentors while benefitting from the garden produce.
"I can't see why these things haven't come together before. You've got young men who are on the streets who don't have any mentors. They don't have anything to do. Then you've got all this land in Jackson that isn't being used. Why can't you just get these young men out here preparing food that is needed in a food desert? They can make some money from it; they can take some food home; they learn life skills; they can learn work skills. That's the goal of JIG: to benefit the community as a whole."
JIG plans to produce over 8,000 pounds of food this year.