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The 3-Minute Interview: Pastor Cheryl Mitchell Gaines, creator of Project EDEN

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People,Taylor Holland,3-Minute Interview

Pastor Gaines began Project Everyone Deserves to Eat Naturally, or Project EDEN, a nonprofit organization that provides hunger relief to the under-served people in Southeast Washington. The organization empowers communities to cultivate healthier eating and lifestyles through urban gardening.

How did you get the idea to start Project Eden?

It was years ago. I had a vision of an urban garden, not only to provide nutrition and healthy eating options, but to also give hope to residents of Southeast. That vision developed into Project Eden and the construction of an urban community garden program that focuses on training and growing opportunities for people.

Would you say the project has been successful?

We just celebrated its 1-year anniversary, and in that time, we've trained 25 people who have now received their food handler's license. We've also provided people with the opportunity to get jobs, we've helped them develop economic empowerment and even been able to allow people to come and get some free food when they're hungry. It's been a phenomenal transformation since we started.

What's the mission of the project? What would you say you hope to achieve with it?

To provide food to needy families for little to no cost. We're also eventually going to have people who get their food handler certification and then have the opportunity to move on and develop small businesses. We're also going to continue training for people who are at risk and provide them with this wonderful opportunity for them to rebuild their lives. We want to provide hunger relief, training in urban agriculture and nutrition and continue to promote food security and grow fruits and produce.

How much food does the garden generate annually?

In addition to creating jobs and businesses opportunities, we harvest between 90,000 to 100,000 pounds of food each year. We're really going to do good things in Southeast. It's a phenomenal project and something I think we're all really proud of.

-- Taylor Holland

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