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A destination for healing and wellbeing in the heart of a community that needs it most. That’s Freedom Greens + Gardens.
The project works to make opportunities to eat healthy more abundant, accessible, and affordable in communities of color. It’s part of Get Fresh Daily, our West Philadelphia-rooted organization providing plant-based living experiences, farm-fresh produce delivery, and culturally empowering programming.
The support we received from the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia as part of the Well City Challenge was instrumental in launching Freedom Greens + Gardens and advancing our mission.
All people — regardless of income or zip code — want and deserve to live healthier, but may not know how and where to begin. Get Fresh Daily works to reduce and prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers that disproportionately lead to mortality in Black communities.
We started out working with schools and in certain neighborhoods. While our wellness programs were positively impacting families throughout West Philadelphia, we wanted to expand our reach. That’s where the Well City Challenge came in.
Well City is built on the belief that the best ideas come from the community. The challenge calls upon everyday innovators to look around their neighborhoods, tap into personal experience, and submit inspiring solutions to health inequities. What excited me about the challenge is its call for innovative approaches — something that traditional funders don’t always seek.
We applied in December 2021, and I’m proud to say we succeeded. As the winner of the food and nutrition portion of the competition, Get Fresh Daily received $10,000. We also won the People’s Choice award, adding $7,500 to our winnings.
This was an incredible boost for a small, grassroots organization like ours; but what’s extraordinary about the Well City Challenge is that you can use this money in any way you like. That is extremely rare.
Our winnings allowed us to fund educational programs and rebuild our garden to become the beautiful destination for wellbeing that we envisioned.
The Well City Challenge process was transformational. First, it validated a concept I felt passionately about when other funding organizations were hesitant to get on board. And as an entrepreneur with little business background, the entire process was empowering. I learned how to fine tune my business concept and perfect my pitch. And, of course, the prize winnings were integral to getting it off the ground.
I would encourage anyone with an idea, large or small, to apply to this year’s challenge, led by the Economy League in partnership with Accelerate Health Equity and powered by Independence Blue Cross.
Thanks to the support we received, Freedom Greens + Gardens is entering its third season of operation. We have established a dynamic, mutual aid business model, and have distributed more than 3500 produce boxes to families throughout Philadelphia. Above all, we are passionate about making all people feel heard, supported, and validated. And that’s exactly what you’ll find in return if you apply to the Well City Challenge.
Jiana Murdic is a wellness warrior, food justice advocate, and Founding Director of Get Fresh Daily.