Jayleen McGehee feels and tastes the benefits of gardening in her backyard.
And she sees the benefits, too - in her wallet.
McGehee is a beneficiary of the city of Phoenix’s Backyard Garden Program, where participants receive – for free – a garden system, including training, support and maintenance as needed for one year.
“It doesn't feel like work to me. It doesn't feel like a chore. It's something I'm passionate about," she said of working in the raised-bed garden that was installed in her backyard.
“I go outside, get sun, grow things, and I provide for my family, because food is expensive right now."
The City of Phoenix Office of Environmental Programs has begun an application process for the next round of garden installations, thanks to American Rescue Plan Act funds.
In the program’s first year, 92 garden systems have been installed, according to a city release.
In year two, the program will provide 178 households with either a traditional raised-bed garden provided by TigerMountain Foundation, a regenerative agriculture system called a 'LEHR Garden,' or an aquaponics system provided by NxT Horizon.
Xavier Jones has the aquaponics system in his yard.
“Literally I can go outside, harvest what I need, use it to cook that night. That's really convenient and inexpensive," said Jones, who has grown more than 10 pounds of produce in the first few months of having his own garden.
Aquaponics systems grow produce on rafts floating in water. Inside the water are fish that provide nutrients for the plants, which in turn clean the water for the fish, the release stated.
Aquaponics expert and instructor Dr. George Brooks, Jr. works to make the process simple for backyard gardeners.
“To see them as their individual plants start to grow and prosper and vine out and bloom and then produce fruit has been great," he said.
The city stated in the release that it is “looking for passionate community members with an interest in growing food and who are willing to make a yearlong commitment to backyard gardening.”
Gardens will be installed in either the fall or early spring.
The program is for residents living in single-family homes only.
The application contains complete requirements.
Applications for the Backyard Garden Program are open until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30.