When Prince took Taja Sevelle under his wing in the 1980s, the singer/songwriter’s career took off. After a whirlwind with Prince, she landed in Detriot to record with a Sony producer in the Motor City. But the motors weren’t being made much any more. “As I became acquainted with the city, I felt a lot of job loss and a lot of blighted unused land within the city proper,” Taje remembers. “It really caught my eye,”
In 2005, Sevelle put her music career on the backburner because she so deeply felt the need and possibilities in her new city. She started the non-profit Urban Farming, which is now booming around the world. After launching with $5,000, three inner-city gardens and only herself on staff, she built the organization into 60,000 registered farms and gardens around the world.
“I’ve had people come up to me crying and thanking us because the food is free for the community, so they can come pick it 24/7, which is sort of a radical thing to do,” Sevelle explains. “I’ve learned just how challenging it is to live and to work under poverty conditions and it’s taught me a lot of what needs to be done to turn impoverished communities around so that they’re thriving.”
Urban Farming also takes its work beyond the garden by giving workshops on healthy living, healthy families and healthy finances to its community members and fellow gardeners.
Taje and Urban Farming just launched their next huge initiative, this time with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “The goal is to get 100 million people to start growing their own food,” says Taje. “In doing that, we’re reshaping and empowering communities to take their food security into their own hands.”
Taje also just completed a book called The Garden Song. It’s about her life in the music business and also what it’s taken to get Urban Farming off the ground. She anticipates a Spring release. To join Urban Farming visit their site: www.urbanfarming.org.