Categories include Education, Urban Renewal, Feeding the Hungry, Restoration. Mike Devlin of Camden, New Jersey, America’s poorest small city, received the grand prize .
For 25 years, Mike has been bringing community gardens and educational programs to the residents of Camden, NJ. He has helped build community gardens across the city, created a children’s garden, developed educational programs and much more.
The statistics for Camden have long been grim. It has been designated the poorest small city in the country — and the most dangerous. Half of its residents are under 20 years old, and 60 percent of its young people don’t graduate from high school.
According to a new study by the University of Pennsylvania, the city has another, more positive, designation: Camden, NJ, has the distinction of being the city with the fastest growing community gardens in the country.
Mike said this growth of community gardening in Camden is driven by intense need — and the surprising amount of available land. Poverty is rampant and there’s little access to quality food and fresh produce. One full-service supermarket serves 80,000 city residents. At the same time, there are 12,000 abandoned lots in Camden and the city owns 4,000 of them.