Tierra Colectiva and GES Coalition Intend to Purchase Vacant Land for Food Forest

Guest Column By Ana Varela

The GES Coalition held a food sale Dec. 2 to raise funds to acquire a vacant plot of land in Swansea. The property, located at 4790 Josephine St., if acquired by Tierra Colectiva Community Land Trust, would transform into a food forest and community space and would be purchased in collaboration by the GES Coalition, Tierra Colectiva and Tierras Verdes. 

The GES Coalition is a community organizing group for health and housing justice. Since 2015, we have supported neighbor-led initiatives that directly combat environmental injustice and displacement. The GES Coalition’s Tierras Verdes group center (an organized committee of vision-aligned neighbors) identifies open, vacant or available parcels to purchase for community benefit and greening. 

Run by neighbors and supported by GES Coalition staff, Tierra Colectiva is a community land trust that directly combats displacement in GES by preserving affordable home ownership opportunities for the community. So far, 13 local families and individuals were able to stay in the GES neighborhoods and stabilize their housing by purchasing a home in the Tierra Colectiva Community Land Trust. The 4790 Josephine plot would be the first property preserved as open land by Tierra Colectiva.

The Dec. 2 fundraiser allowed neighbors and supporters to purchase homemade tamales, enchiladas and champurrado made by the Navegadoras, another group center of the GES Coalition that keeps neighbors informed through flyers, events and word of mouth. The day was also an opportunity to come together with neighbors, partners and friends to collectively bring green and community-owned spaces to the neighborhood. 

Vision for food forest at 4790 Josephine St. Image and enhancement by Ana Varela / Visión para un bosque de alimentos en 4790 Josephine St. Imagen y diseño por Ana Varela

Thanks to our supporters, we’re going to be able to make this otherwise abandoned lot into an approximately 10,000-square-foot community-serving space. While Tierra Colectiva’s original hope was to acquire the property before the end of the year, we still need to raise additional funds to reach the asking price for the property. In the meantime, the land trust has a purchase agreement with the property owner until at least the end of February 2024.

You can sign up for the next Tierra Colectiva home-ownership orientation, scheduled for Jan. 11, 2024, at bit.ly/tierracolectiva or call 720-432-1188. To learn more about GES Coalition, please visit linktr.ee/gescoalition or send us an email at info@ges-coalition.org. To support the food forest project, please go to https://bit.ly/GESCforest and stay updated with us on Facebook and Instagram @gescoaltion. 

Ana Varela is an Elyria resident and the communications director for the Tierra Colectiva and GES Coalition. You know her as our monthly Spanish translator for the GES Gazette. You can contact her at ana@ges-coalition.org.

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