Green Opportunities Receives FreshLo Grant to Support Southside Arts & Agriculture Project


Green Opportunities in Asheville awarded grant as part of national program to increase health, economic opportunity


With a grant from The Kresge Foundation Green Opportunities will continue work on a project to combine healthy food & Creative Placemaking as part of the FreshLo initiative


October 16, 2017 (Asheville, NC) – Green Opportunities (GO) has received a two-year, $200,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation to support the Southside Arts & Agricultural Center project.


Green Opportunities is one of 23 organizations from across the U.S. receiving a grant as part of The Kresge Foundation’s initiative, Fresh, Local & Equitable (FreshLo), which supports neighborhood-scale projects leveraging healthy food and Creative Placemaking for equitable economic development.


After being selected to participate in FreshLo in 2016, Green Opportunities, in partnership with the Southside Community Gardeners and Southside residents, completed a one-year planning phase for the Southside Arts & Agricultural Center with a $75,000 grant from Kresge. During the past year, the coalition hosted workshops and garden parties in the Southside Community Garden, introduced a grab and go food cooler stocked with free, healthy snacks to the Edington Center, and strengthened relationships with community-based arts organizations, including Word on the Street and Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community.


“We’re inspired by the work of Green Opportunities and how they engaged neighborhood residents to create a shared vision for the Southside Arts & Agricultural Center Project,” said Stacey Barbas, senior program officer with Kresge’s Health Program. “Over the last year, this organization has worked tirelessly to develop a project that reflects the culture and values of their neighborhoods.”



FreshLo embodies The Kresge Foundation’s philosophy that catalytic change to improve opportunity for low-income persons in America’s cities requires multidimensional approaches – not simply one program or sector working alone. By incorporating Creative Placemaking – the deliberate integration of arts, culture and community-engaged design into comprehensive community development – residents and community partners can creatively address complex issues such as food insecurity, vacancy and health outcomes.


The purpose of the Southside Arts & Agricultural Center project is to support healing, restoring, and reclaiming community culture, support emerging leaders, grow food, and incubate economic development. The Center will celebrate black culture, creativity, arts and agriculture. Specifically, this grant will provide funding for the Southside Community Garden as well as the renovation of the auditorium in the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center. The Housing Authority will raise the remaining funds required for the auditorium renovation.


According to GO’s Executive Director J Hackett, “this grant is unique in that it leverages community partners in a circular form of leadership. While GO is ultimately responsible for the grant, decisions will be made by the FreshLo Steering committee, which will include a FreshLo Project Coordinator to be hired by GO.”


In alignment with GO’s mission, the project will also increase opportunities for skills training. Funds allocated to the Southside Community Garden will create opportunities for local residents to work and learn in the garden and gain entrepreneurial skills. GO’s Southside Construction program trainees will receive valuable on-the-job training by working on the auditorium renovation as well as the construction of a pavilion in the garden. The theater will also increase access to high-skilled training opportunities in the creative sector, such as audio/visual technology and lighting operations.


“We are excited about this opportunity and glad that The Kresge Foundation was willing to make this investment,” said Mr. Hackett.




For Green Opportunities

Gwen Hill,  828-398-4158 x112

For The Kresge Foundation:

Hugh McDiarmid,  248-660-4300

Christina Karas,  248-643-9630




About The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2016, the Board of Trustees approved 474 grants totaling $141.5 million, and made 14 social investment commitments totaling $50.8 million. For more information, visit


About Green Opportunities

Green Opportunities (GO) offers technical training, life skills training, industry-recognized credentials, and personalized support services to unemployed and under-employed residents of Asheville and Buncombe County. GO training and employment programs empower Members to overcome both personal and systemic barriers to employment. Through experiential training, GO engages Members in projects that build community capacity and make neighborhoods healthier and more sustainable. Learn more at