The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service, announced grant assistance to help the Rossville Blvd community develop a food system and revitalization strategies. The EPA, The BLVD, Crabtree Farms, The Chattanooga Area Food Bank and various other organizations will facilitate virtual workshops open to the public to brainstorm on a plan of action. The workshops, happening Sept. 21-23, will focus on stimulating economic growth, increasing access to local foods and strengthening community health in the Rossville Blvd corridor.
The BLVD is a grassroots organization working under a nonprofit called ELLA Library. The group seeks to improve access to food, safety, transportation, aesthetics and business along the Rossville Blvd. corridor. The passage begins at the I-24 overpass and continues 2.2 miles south to the Georgia State Line.
Executive Director Heather Herweyer has lived in the area for a decade and says that despite the corridor’s significance to the local economy, the Rossville Blvd. corridor area remains a food desert. The Chattanooga Area Food Bank provides food to more than 375 families per month with their East Lake mobile pantry and nearly 600 emergency food boxes were delivered to residents from January to July. “We want to use this EPA workshop to develop a strategic plan to increase access to local foods. For example, maybe we can turn a vacant building into a weekly community market to provide food for residents,” said Ms. Herweyer.
"Crabtree Farms, a non-profit educational urban farm, is partnering with The BLVD and ELLA Library to improve the Rossville Blvd corridor and the neighborhoods it ties together," officials said. "By using creative placemaking concepts, they will improve neighbors’ access to the farm and its products to help address food instability in the community."
Executive Director Melonie Lusk says, “Through these workshops, we will look at opportunities to leverage the farm as a catalyst for food access, economic development, and community building along the corridor.”