Residents of West Las Vegas celebrated Earth Day on Saturday by spending time outdoors in a newly opened urban farm.
About 50 people gathered at 1300 C St., between Owens Avenue and Washington Avenue, on the Obodo Collective’s half-acre property.
The nonprofit offers assistance for food insecurity, housing and childcare for neighborhoods surrounding the farm, according to Executive Director Tameka Henry.
“We really create a pathway from poverty for families so they know that they don’t have to do it alone,” she said.
Co-founder Erica Vital-Lazare said the collective purchased the land in 2019 and has since turned it from a bare spot to “a beating heart” of West Las Vegas.
Vital-Lazare said the goal is to serve those in the 89106 zip code, end systemic poverty and create a space that the community and Las Vegas in general can use.
“We’re not trying to bring something more in,” Vital-Lazare said. “I think we’re trying to contribute to what’s already here so that we’re all blooming.”
‘This was necessary’
People gathered Saturday evening to walk through the farm and share conversations and refreshments. Several raised beds were lush with sprouting plants. People walked on paved walkways past the beds and sat at picnic tables.
Henry said the location of the farm is “smack dab in the middle of a food desert” and is strategically located to provide the community with access to fresh produce.
There are no grocery stores in the neighborhood where the farm sits and the goal was to provide a beautiful space in an area that has experienced systemic oppression and is filled with blighted land, according to Food Programs Coordinator Cheyenne Kyle.
“I did this for people whose names I don’t know whose faces I saw in my dreams,” she said. “I knew that this was necessary and I feel the most like myself when I’m here.”
Growing in the farm are tomatoes, bell peppers, bok choy, arugula, basil, carrots and several other types of fresh produce. The plants will be harvested and sold out of the small building that sits on the property — soon to become a grocery store.
Building — and honoring — community
Along with celebrating the new farm, a mural honoring civil rights activist and community leader Ruby Duncan was revealed Saturday, followed by a screening of the documentary “Storming Caesar’s Palace” that chronicles Duncan’s work in Las Vegas.
Henry said Duncan was a pioneer in grassroots activism, someone who pushed programs that balanced injustices in areas like food access and housing.
Lead artist Malachi Williams created the mural, along with Dyron Boyd and Courtney Haywood. It depicts the faces of Duncan and a Native American woman with an abundance of fruits and vegetables at its center.
“It really speaks to Earth Day,” Henry said of the mural.
Williams said the mural is meant to portray aspects of the past, present and future. The native woman represents a blessing of the land where the farm sits. “Obodo” is painted at the top of the mural in white letters with golden beams shooting out from the word.
Henry said obodo is a word that comes from the Igbo people — an ethnic group from Nigeria. It means city or community.
“The thing I love about it the most is … it’s the same frontwards and backwards, and we are a reflection of our community,” Henry said.