The heart of the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation’s (RMWF) approach is a belief that something greater can come from the small efforts of many. In this spirit, RMWF and St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) work with the Phoenix community to increase access to healthy foods and education programming for those experiencing homelessness.
The Rob and Melani Walton Urban Farm at St. Vincent de Paul is living proof of what can happen when the desire to lift a community experiencing challenging circumstances is met with a creative and sustainable solution: a commitment to truly utilizing all the resources around us.
SVdP Phoenix is the largest chapter in the nation, providing support to individuals and families in the form of clothing, shelter, and medical and dental care. The impact of these necessities is not only physical. The intangible benefits of safety and wellness extend beyond physical comfort to restore peace and hope to those struggling with poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness.
RMWF’s partnership with SVdP is a testament to the value the foundation sees in all members of the Phoenix community. In order to sustain life, we must acknowledge all aspects of what makes us human and create opportunities for individuals to take ownership of their role in contributing to the vitality of our communities.
The revitalized urban farm not only provides locally-grown, healthy food for the SVdP central kitchen but offers public gathering space, educational programming, a water recycling system, and a composting program that repurposes food waste to fertilize the soil. In just one year, the composting program mitigated over 46,000 pounds of waste by diverting it into healthier, more nutrient–rich soil production for growing produce. The harvest from the farm, nearly 48,000 pounds in 2017, means an increase in fresh produce provided to food-insecure families, as well as reductions in food cost by harvesting rather than purchasing produce. The farm is an opportunity to foster the relationship between people and planet through an investment in the human spirit and our capacity for change.
The urban farm has succeeded through a team effort with its partners working on sustainability. The Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service at Arizona State University (WSSS) provided technical expertise for the design of the urban farm, and students at ASU provide ongoing consultation in sustainability practices. B-Sharp Music Wellness, A W.O.N.D.E.R. Project, brings the benefits of music and sound to those experiencing homelessness in order to reduce stress.
All of us are the caretakers of our planet and of each other, even in times of personal and social struggle. This partnership brings RMWF’s commitment to the Phoenix community full circle, recognizing the strength that exists in possibility and demonstrating that our potential to create lasting impact is greater when we seek solutions together.
We invite you to visit the inspiring work of St. Vincent de Paul HERE.