Robin Emmons’ older brother has a history of mental illness that left him homeless and living on the streets of Charlotte, N.C., for 10 years. Emmons was able to get him into transitional housing, but when her brother’s physical health began to deteriorate because of unhealthy, processed foods, she wanted to make a change.

“He was becoming borderline diabetic,” says Emmons. “You can imagine my sheer frustration, having a loved one who is mentally ill, homeless, and now [his] physical health was being threatened. I just could not have that.”

Emmons ripped up her yard and started growing food on every inch of it, donating the bounty to her brother’s transitional housing organization. “Then it sort of snowballed,” says Emmons. Now, that backyard garden has turned into Sow Much Good gardens, where she grows organic food that is distributed to low-income communities through a CSA model and an on-site market.

“This has become a meaningful space for the community to come and engage and to talk about recipes and who wasn’t in church last week and what’s happening in the neighborhood,” says Emmons. “There’s real value in that.”

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You’ll hear Emmons’ story (starting at 7:07), along with the tales of three other passionate Carolina foodies, in the 12th episode of The Victory Gardens’ Edible Feast. You’ll visit Ken Crouse’s garden in the woods outside of Charlotte, where he collects fungi and practices permaculture; get tips on direct composting into raised beds from Scott Lindsley; and, of course, salivate over Southern-style comfort food.

Check your local listings for more episodes here.

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