Local Initiative Growing Food for the Homeless

RENO, Nev. The seedlings are small. Only a few of them are popping through the ground. But as gardener Benjamin Castro looks over them, a smile appears on his face.

Castro is the founder of R.I.S.E., which stands for The Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality. He started the organization last year with the help of his wife and friends.

Three Saturdays out of the month, R.I.S.E. feeds hundreds of homeless men and women in our community. They set up outside the shelter on Record Street, and Castro says he hasn't thought twice about spending his weekends there.

"I think sharing, especially with food, is a way to build a stronger, more resilient community," he said.

With his garden, Castro is hoping R.I.S.E. can supplement those meals with home grown vegetables.

"For us, we're firm believers that good, high quality food should be available to everybody regardless of their income status."

And many in the shelter are grateful.

"It's really nice that people are taking care of people out here," Tim Fialdini said. "They bring a lot of food out here."

Though Fialdini is homeless himself, he doesn't just eat. He also offers his experience as a cook to R.I.S.E.

The organization has big plans moving forward. Castro says he is hoping to build more garden boxes in his backyard, as well as build some at the shelter so the people can grow their own food.

He says it's an exciting prospect, though some at the shelter are worried about its success.

"It's a good thought," Paul Espinoza said. "It really, really is but you've got to deal with the people who really don't care."

Espinoza says he's been at the shelter for a long time, and sees many people who have given up. But that's a challenge Castro won't back away from.

"Even if I can help 1 out of 1000, that will make this all worth it," he said.

If you'd like to donate to help Castro expand the garden visit http://www.renoinitiative.org/riseanddine/