Spartanburg Airport growing garden alongside runway to feed community

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA)-When you think of airports, you probably think of baggage claims or crowds of people. But if you’ve been to the Spartanburg Memorial Airport recently, you’ll think of the garden.

“We’re looking at a way of providing, you know, some type of food back to the community from the airport,” said Terry Connorton, Director of the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport.

After acknowledging the presence of food insecurity in Spartanburg, Connorton said he spoke to the Hub City Farmers Market. They said despite an airport sounding like an unlikely place for a successful garden, it’s actually the opposite.

“This form of regenerative agriculture will take the carbon emissions that’s happening all around us at the airport due to the aircraft, and it’ll sequester the carbon in the soil,” said Dori Burgess, executive director of Hub City Farmers Market. “So it’s a form of taking these carbon emissions and using it for a practical purpose so it’s better for our environment.”

Those helping tend the garden are part of an internship with Hub City Farmers Market that aims to show kids in the community why the process of growing food is so important.

“I think the biggest thing kids learn from growing food themselves is all it takes for that food to make it to the grocery store or to their table, more importantly, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of time, a lot of love ,” said Ben Lea, urban farm manager.

Some of the gardening processes will also be open to other children in the community as well.

“Activities such as sowing seeds or harvesting a crop will be done by a local school or girls guides and boy scouts’ organizations as a learning opportunity,” said Connorton.

Not only is the food grown at the airport feeding many in the community who need it the most, but it’s fresher from how quickly it takes to get from the local garden to your plate.

“If you can shorten that time period the nutrients that are in that food is much greater that moment it’s on the table versus if it is rode from a green tomato in South Florida, got loaded on a truck, and rode for miles and miles and miles and made it to your local supermarket,” said Lea.

To get food from the airport to community residents, Hub City Markets is using their mobile market.

“The concept of the mobile market is to make stops in neighborhoods that lower your income or have less access to foods that are local, fresh and healthy for your body,” said Burgess. “So, in these food desert communities the mobile market will stop and now we’ll be serving the food that is grown here.”

Spartanburg is hosting the state aviation conference in February and the food that was grown at the Spartanburg Airport will be served to guests from across the country.

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