Austin Nonprofit Black Lives Veggies Promotes Food Sustainability, Provides Healthy Food Access and Business for Disenfranchised Communities

Lifelong Austinite Larry Franklin founded Black Lives Veggies in summer 2020 as a way of teaching people of all income levels the art of gardening. (KXAN Photo/Kelsey Thompson)

Growing a movement starts with the initial planting of a seed. That logic has become the framework of Austin nonprofit Black Lives Veggies, an organization launched to promote food sustainability and entrepreneurship for disenfranchised communities.

Larry Franklin and Johnny Jefferson launched Black Lives Veggies in summer 2020, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests rippling across the country and the pandemic-spurred renewed interest in DIY gardening.

The nonprofit’s premise is rooted in financial accessibility for prospective gardeners, achieved by lowering the costs of organic vegetables and hosting educational classes to teach the craft to beginners.

“There is a collection of people that have, and are currently still being oppressed by the system, which does things like concentrates a certain type of person, skin color and gender into certain types of categories within our economics society,” he said. “So when you hear Black Lives Veggies, it’s a movement. It’s a movement of the underdog to use the power of the people to get in the game. And then once you’re in the game, you diversify the system.”

But the idea for the nonprofit dates back further, to when Franklin was running an initial prototype of a gardening initiative, specializing in garden beds.

While the endeavor wasn’t profitable, Franklin saw the interest in gardening and knew the potential for a grassroots gardening nonprofit would appeal to residents.

“I was like ‘hey, people really want to eat vegetables. And they like these cool boxes I’m designing,’” he said. “I need financial help in order to keep supplying the community.”

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SOURCE: KXAN, Kelsey Thompson

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