South Dade Alphas and Avant School Staff at the completion of the build.

South Dade Alphas and Avant School Staff at the completion of the build.

With the rapid increase in population, health disparities, and property development in southern Miami-Dade County, the members of the Iota Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. have developed a new initiative to empower South Dade residents to face these new challenges.

The Alpha Leads through Education, Advocacy, Development, and Service (L.E.A.D.S.) Project was developed to address a need for South Dade residents to become more engaged on matters pertaining to education, health, housing, and public policy.

The South Dade Alphas launched the environmental justice component of their initiative by creating a community garden at Avant School of Excellence, 777 West Palm Drive in Florida City on Saturday, December 11, 2021.

The school-site garden will educate students on the benefits of organic farming, proper nutrition, gentrification, housing and environmental justice, advocacy, and career opportunities in the food science and agricultural industry.

The garden building materials were sponsored by Home Depot in collaboration with Teloi Services.

Event volunteers work to construct five raised garden beds.

Event volunteers work to construct five raised garden beds. 

At large sponsors include Iota Pi Lambda Education Foundation, Inc. Catalyst Miami, Blue Buildings USA Construction, National Society of Black Engineers South Florida, and Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP.

During the spring and summer months, students will plant, garden, and harvest fruits, herbs, and vegetables while exploring topics related to food production and urbanization.

"A direct, measurable impact of this project is to educate adolescent community members on the importance of diet and organic farming. We hope to inspire students to become environmentally conscious consumers and encourage them to purchase food products grown or raised locally,” Leslie Elus, President of the South Dade Alphas and Catalyst Miami Neighbors to Leaders Fellow. “We hope to equip youth with the knowledge necessary to combat obesity - a determent for the onset of metabolic diseases - through proper nutrition and inspire students to promote green strategies in the communities they live in."

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