Background: Prosperity Gardens, Inc., a Champaign non-profit, was created in 2010 to address the growing problems of youth obesity and limited nutrition knowledge, while providing job training and employment opportunities in agricultural sciences and food production. Its urban gardening programming, currently centered on two city-owned lots on North First Street, provides hands-on garden-based education and green business employment opportunities and offers affordable, locally grown produce for Champaign-Urbana’s low-income residents. Prosperity Gardens’ services target urban neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts” by the USDA, where access to healthy foods is limited by a lack of resources and full service grocery options.

Mission: The mission of Prosperity Gardens is as follows: “Through neighborhood farming, Prosperity Gardens is dedicated to cultivating healthy communities by providing education, employment and collaboration opportunities.” The non-profit’s primary collaboration to date has been with the Regional Office of Education’s READY program, a Champaign-based alternative education program for at-risk teens that have been suspended multiple times from mainstream schools. Aptly named “READY to Garden”, the partnership between READY and Prosperity Gardens combines agricultural science and nutrition education coupled with an intensive health and wellness curriculum. The program is designed to give READY students the tools they need to become economically self-sufficient while living healthy, active lives.