by Nathalia De Souza, WMSLO Student Activist Grant Recipient
In May of 2020, a peer of mine approached me with an idea. In light of the civil unrest following the murders of multiple African Americans across the United States, he wanted to create an organization centered on abolition and safety for Black/Indigenous/people of color (BIPOC) in the Central Coast. We called ourselves AACCS—short for Abolitionist Action Central Coast/SLO—and our goal was to fight racism, injustice, and inequality in the greater Central Coast. What started as a group of 10 officers soon became a fully-fledged organization with over 100 active members and hundreds more supporters across social media platforms.
After brainstorming how we could extend into our communities, we decided to start a series of community gardens throughout the Central Coast, as well as a fresh food delivery program. Our focus was to support marginalized communities on the Central Coast. Migrant communities, specifically, can often be overlooked and underserved. We felt strongly that it is a human right to have access to fresh food without justification. There was a clear need during the pandemic and environmental catastrophes that have placed a heavier burden on BIPOC communities, so we decided to build an ongoing network that would serve these communities for the foreseeable future. So, the Peoples’ Revolutionary Garden Network (PRGN) was created. Similar to how the Women’s March SLO encourages the unity principle of environmental justice, PRGN fights corporate greed and the exploitation of the Northern Chumash land that we are on. Our goal was to make gardens BY the people, FOR the people, and to give the goods we harvest back to the community.
Prior to receiving the Women’s March SLO Student Grant, AACCS/PRGN struggled to find monetary support in the community. This $500 grant was a welcomed blessing that we were able to use to support marginalized people in the Central Coast. The money went towards buying seeds, tools, and pest repellent. Now, our distributed garden network extends to around 10 personal vegetable gardens and 3 public gardens where we share land and harvest vegetables for our weekly food distributions. Mutual aid is a community effort, and we persevered through the support of organizations like the Women’s March SLO!