GOLD2022

Urban Harvest, Inc.

Growing Gardens & Enriching Lives

Houston, TX   |  www.urbanharvest.org

Mission

Urban Harvest cultivates thriving communities through gardening and access to healthy, local food. We envision a healthier city where everyone has access to fresh, nutritious food harvested from sustainable community gardens and farms.

Ruling year info

1996

Executive Director

Mrs. Janna Roberson

Development Director

Libby Kennedy

Main address

3302 Canal Street

Houston, TX 77003 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

76-0501430

NTEE code info

Food Service, Free Food Distribution Programs (K30)

Primary/Elementary Schools (B24)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Urban Harvest’s programs innovatively address the needs of Houstonians. From empowering residents of low-income neighborhoods to grow nutritious food for themselves and their community to providing economic opportunity for local family farms, our work focuses on developing food security for our region in a healthy, equitable, and ecological way. When Urban Harvest was founded over twenty-five years ago, it was thought that food could not be grown organically in Houston. Since then, Urban Harvest has introduced an alternate vision for the city, revealing that sustainable fruits and vegetables can flourish in Houston’s unique climate, and locally grown, healthy food can revitalize our communities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Farmers Market

Urban Harvest's Saturday Farmers Market is the largest direct producer market in the Gulf Coast region, and plays a key educational and economic role in developing a sustainable, local food system. In 2004, the market started with just seven vendors. Today, the Farmers Market Program supports over 100 small businesses, including local farms, ranches, gardens and food artisans. 80% of these vendors operate with fewer than 10 employees, and 1 in 5 vendors derives over 50% of their income from the market. The Farmers Market Program strengthens the livelihoods of these small, local farmers, growers, and businesses through the exposure and support they receive through the Farmers Market Program.

Urban Harvest’s Saturday Farmers Market was honored to be recognized as the top farmers market in Texas by Cooking Light magazine, TripAdvisor, and now USA Today. With an overall economic impact of $3.2 million annually, the Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market changes the way Houston thinks about local food. 88% of the market’s farms grow sustainable or organic farm products, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat, etc., and 100% of vendors come from within 180 miles of Houston. Since 2010, Urban Harvest has also offered a popular, seasonal market to downtown employees during the workweek in partnership with the City of Houston.

Population(s) Served
Adults

With gardens stretching from Galveston to Magnolia, the Community Gardens Program is the cornerstone of Urban Harvest, and includes one of the largest networks of edible gardens in the country. This program fills gaps in food access and bolsters our region’s food security by making fresh, nutritious produce accessible in the neighborhood spaces that need it most. Urban Harvest distributes seasonal transplants, provides organic education, and connects volunteers to over 135 affiliate gardens. Moreover, the Community Gardens Program delivers hands-on support to gardens in food insecure areas: 82 affiliate gardens serve food deserts or donate produce to feed the hungry, accounting for over 60,000 pounds of produce donations to pantries and soup kitchens every year. Urban Harvest empowers growers to bring fresh foods to neighborhood plates and build community around local diet.  Furthermore, Urban Harvest supports community gardens through education, materials and community engagement. The Starting a Community or School Garden Workshop is a dynamic workshop in which participants learn what it takes to start a garden and begin the first steps in building the community that will sustain it. It is the only class of its kind offered in the Houston region.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Through professional development for educators and direct services in Houston area schools, Urban Harvest’s Youth Education Program changes the way youth think about their education, their environment, and their food. This program aligns with classroom curriculum and TEKS objectives to enhance children’s learning of core subjects like science, math, and language arts through hands-on, outdoor activities in the garden. A recent study from the University of Florida has shown that children will try new fruits and vegetables, eat healthier, and be more active when in school garden programs. Furthermore, children who garden develop a lifelong appreciation for eating healthy fruits and vegetables. In 2017-2018, Urban Harvest reached over 6,000 students with hands-on garden education at 25 partner sites in Houston and Spring Branch ISD; 78% of these schools received Title 1 funding. Additionally, the Youth Education Program offers professional development workshops that teach educators, administrators, and parents  how to use their garden as an Outdoor Classroom. Since launching in 2016, Urban Harvest’s Edible Academy workshop has become the most comprehensive source of professional development in garden education for our region. Here, educators from different disciplines and skill levels come together to first learn the basics of creating and maintaining a school garden; and, then how they can integrate the garden into science, math, and language arts standards. Since 2016, Edible Academy workshop participants have gone on to reach another 10,000 students about the wonders of outdoor education through school gardening.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Crystal Award 2014

Texas Association of Partners in Education

Mayor's Proud Partner award 2014

Keep Houston Beautiful

Best Farmers Market in Texas 2015

Cooking Light

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of groups/individuals benefiting from tools/resources/education materials provided

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of classes offered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Students Reached

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Acres of farmland protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

In 2018, Urban Harvest embarked on an extensive strategic planning process to define the future vision of our organization. The strategic plan, with six guiding pillars, culminated in the following core goals:

i. Urban Harvest will create thriving communities and increase access to fresh and local food through gardens.

ii. Urban Harvest will educate the next generation of gardeners.

iii. Urban Harvest will increase access to fresh and local food through the Farmers Market Program.

iv. Urban Harvest will secure its future by expanding funding.

v. Urban Harvest will build organizational capacity and leverage technology.

vi. Urban Harvest will align board policies and process with best practices of nonprofit boards.

For each pillar in Urban Harvest's strategic plan, our core goals correspond with the following strategies:

i. Goal: Urban Harvest will create thriving communities and increase access to fresh and local food through gardens.
Strategy: The organization will design and implement a sustainable community garden model that is replicable, scalable, and measurable, for gardens across Houston.

ii. Goal: Urban Harvest will educate the next generation of gardeners.
Strategy: The organization will formalize the school garden model based on our current top-performing school programs, changing the nature of education for Houston’s youngest growers.

iii. Goal: Urban Harvest will increase access to fresh and local food through the Farmers Market Program.
Strategy: The organization will expand the market customer base and economic opportunities for growers and farmers through additional food/nutrition assistance programs.

iv. Goal: Urban Harvest will secure its future by expanding funding.
Strategy: The organization will maintain, expand, and diversify each source of funding: individuals, corporations, foundations, etc.

v. Goal: Urban Harvest will build organizational capacity and leverage technology.
Strategy: The organization will organize staff structure and job responsibilities to facilitate program area integration, enhance communication, and promote collaboration.

vi. Goal: Urban Harvest will align board policies and process with best practices of nonprofit boards.
Strategy: The organization will organize committee and board work to accomplish strategic goals and objectives.

Urban Harvest was founded in 1994 by individuals who believed that people can feed and revitalize their communities by growing healthy food. This core belief led to the creation of community gardens that address important issues like hunger, health, community development, and ecological land management. The Community Gardens Program paved the way for organic garden education: our Gardening Classes teach and promote the benefits of organic and sustainable methods, and our Youth Education Program has taught children hands-on lessons in school gardens to enhance classroom learning, promote youth health, and bring gardening knowledge home to families since 2003. Each year, the Youth Education Program reaches over 9,500 students, educating the next generation of gardeners and empowering youth to lead healthier lives. In 2004, Urban Harvest opened a year-round farmers market – now the largest in the region – that provides economic opportunity for over 110 family farms, small businesses, and local growers and gardeners. In 2019, Urban Harvest launched Double Up Houston, an incentive program that matches SNAP benefits dollar-for-dollar, up to $20 a day, on fruits and vegetables for low-income individuals at farmers markets throughout the city. Across programs, Urban Harvest creates spaces where fresh, healthy food is the easy economic choice for all.

Urban Harvest is supported by a hardworking staff of 10, a dedicated 12-person Board of Directors, a network of thousands of volunteers, and many individuals, foundations, community partners and businesses. Today, with over 25 years of leadership in the local food system, Urban Harvest is enriching the lives, soils, and plates of Houstonians.

Since 1994, Urban Harvest has changed the way Houston thinks about food, revealing that sustainable fruits and vegetables can flourish in Houston’s unique climate. What’s more locally grown, healthy food can revitalize and empower our communities and region. Today, our programs continue to champion the philosophy that started it all: Support fresh, real food - and those who grow and raise it. Our Community Gardens program provides resources and education to over 140 gardens, supporting communities in growing their own food and creating sustainable greenspaces. Our Youth Education program teaches hands-on gardening to Houston-area students, and with our Edible Academy workshop for educators, we reach 9,500 students annually. Our Farmers Markets bring together farmers, vendors, and thousands of Houstonians in a lively community that celebrates local food and growers. Together, our programs cultivate thriving communities through gardening and access to healthy, local food.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    In 2019, Urban Harvest identified four priority neighborhoods in Houston, all of them with high poverty levels and classified as food deserts. Since then, we are investing in mechanisms to increase participation of these communities across our programs.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    In light of Covid, our Education Program launched a series of online courses at no cost. As a result, in 2021 we tripled the number of class participants coming from across Houston. In addition to this, since 2021 we are investing in communications both in English and Spanish.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    In 2021, we launched GreenShoots, a quarterly newsletter for funders and partners to learn about the impact of our work through metrics and interactive dashboards. Since then, we are using this communication tool as an opportunity to build trust, steward our donors, and educate our funders.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Urban Harvest, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Urban Harvest, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 08/11/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Heather Houston

Heather Houston

Paul Charles

Jerry Fabian

Beth Clark

David Orr

Will Thompson

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/11/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Native American/American Indian/Indigenous
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/11/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.