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The Black United Fund of Texas's new shipping container farm in Greater Fifth Ward will showcase a visual representation of fresh produce and gardens through the work of local artists.

Destiny Polk is designing a mural to represent local foods and a journey to find love that will eventually hang out along the side of the shipping container. At the BUFTX headquarters in the Fifth Ward, she and her colleagues are working on a 12-foot by 9-foot canvas with pastels, acrylic paint, spray paint and paint markers. There are sunflowers in the corner, lettuce up front and a basket up front.

So far, the crew has spent 20 hours on the painting. They will probably work another 10.

“It’s like a harvest,” Polk said. “We need to reflect on what energy we are putting in the environment and how we are giving back. Especially now, during the holidays, think about making yourself available to volunteer in community gardens and see how you can share the load.”

BUFTX commissioned Polk – a 27-year-old artist who works in a variety of community creative projects – to work on a five-part art series in Greater Fifth Ward. The art will include a painting of a fountain or a well, a bridge over water, a king’s throne and large hands that someone could sit in. The garden is the first of the series.

Polk is originally from Boston, but her father grew up in Greater Fifth Ward. Since moving to Houston, she has felt connected to the place her father is from and giving back to the neighborhood she heard so much about.

“It means a lot to reconnect and to have my own personal relationship with this place,” she said.

All three artists working on the mural have connections to food deserts and inequity. They had all met up by chance a few years earlier and connected over creative projects. Now, they are helping out Polk with her work.

Destiny Newsome, a community creative project manager, reflected on her time growing up in the South Park community, that they didn’t have the same kind of access to produce as other neighborhoods. Now that she lives by the Galleria, she notices the stark difference between the two communities.

“You realize the certain level of access to resources and when you see people actually putting action towards problems, it makes you want to do a lot more about it,” Newsome said. “A lot of small progress can make a really big impact.”

She hopes work like this can be reproduced in South Park too, and other communities in need of food security.

This is a hope shared by Thomas as well. The container farm is really a demonstration project and is intended to be scalable.

“In the Fifth Ward, it’s so easy to focus on all the negative things that have happened, but good things can come from here too,” she said. “When we address things like contaminated soil and food deserts, it’s worth looking at because we can do it elsewhere too.”

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Elena Bruess covers the environment for the Abdelraoufsinno. She comes to Houston after two years at the San Antonio Express-News, where she covered the environment, climate and water. Elena previously...