Unfortunately, poverty afflicts millions of people worldwide. Many are forced to live a life that lacks basic amenities and to struggle to provide for themselves and their families.
Therefore, we should never forget that it is our primary responsibility to help as many of them as we can. One man with a huge heart and great vision was aware of this and managed to change the lives of numerous members in his community.
Over a decade ago, the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina are still felt. There are numerous abandoned and dilapidated buildings in the area, and swarms of bees cause a menace to people trying to repair their homes.
Yet, the importance of honey bees is crucial for life on the entire planet, so their lethal extermination is not an option, as their decline would severely affect the entire agricultural sector.
Therefore, David Young created a sustainability garden to house all the unwanted bees in the Ninth Ward.
To satisfy the bees’ need for safe and environmentally-friendly home and help low-income city residents, he founded a volunteer-run organization, Capstone Community Gardens.
The Capstone Community Gardens provides free food to low-income earners, rationed out to everyone by the organization’s volunteers, and a suitable environment for bees to survive and repopulate.
Young chose 30 abandoned lots in the area and built the garden soon after the devastation.
According to the website:
“Capstone is a small nonprofit that has taken previously blighted or vacant lots in the Lower Ninth Ward and developed them into productive gardens and orchards. Located in part of a food desert Capstone grows and provides food at no cost to those who need it. We also assist others in starting their own gardens or allow others to garden on our lots as we have space available.”
Since he retired from law enforcement, Young has been a full-time volunteer and lives in a house in the neighborhood that has been rebuilt twice since Hurricane Katrina.
The gardens grow everything from swiss chard to Brussel sprouts, tomatoes, mustard greens, kale, and cucumbers, all totally accessible to the community for free.
Volunteer Amy Kraus explained:
“If you’re low-income, if you don’t have any money, if you have no way to support yourself, that is not enough to live off of. They give a small amount of food for the entire month. So David has made sure that these gardens are all over the community and people can go harvest them at any time if they feel the need for the food — which I think is a wonderful thing.”
People whose land is infested with bees can call up Capstone and the bees will be evacuated to a safer location, with the help of a low-suction vacuum that collects them and sets them free in the garden.
Also, there are many goats in the garden that eat up the overgrown bushes, and chickens whose eggs provide the necessary nutrients for the less-privileged in the area. Kraus adds that they collect the eggs and bring them to people “ who either can’t get out of their house to get food for themselves, or they don’t have enough money.”
The vision of the elderly man has helped numerous families not to go to bed hungry. Young regularly delivers food to them, and a few times he has had enough to donate the excess to the Harry Thompson Center, the homeless day center on Gravier Street downtown.
“I call David the Santa Claus of Food because he seriously looks like Santa Claus. If we all did our part, if we all did what we could for our community, to help one another, to help the environment as much as we could, could you imagine how peaceful — how wonderful life — would be?”