PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- As the saying goes, money doesn't grow on trees, but money is flooding one community farm. A $100,000 donation, all thanks to Ellen DeGeneres and Sprouts. It's going to what some call 'an oasis in a food desert.' Farmers there have some useful tips if our shelves ever go empty again. It's called Spaces of Opportunity.

"You can pretty much grow anything," said Rodney Machokoto. His seeds will feed his family and others. Every space here is a different opportunity.

"We grow plants but we really focus on growing people," said Jamesha Gross with TigerMountain Foundation, an organization that uses farming to help people in communities with high incarceration rates. 

Machokoto said it's important to learn how to grow food because of what he went through in his home country of Zimbabwe. "We had one of the worst economic crises in the 21st century, and we saw our shelves go bare," said Machokoto. A similar scene across the valley during the pandemic.

"Here in the US, most of my colleagues don't know what to do with the seed," said Machokoto.

That's what the people behind the 18-acre property are trying to change. It's a partnership with many faces, including Roosevelt School District and The Desert Botanical Garden. They built this oasis here because South Phoenix is in a food desert.

"Meaning we don't have as many grocery stores as Mesa or Scottsdale," said Perla Garcia, a volunteer with Spaces of Opportunity. "The lifespan from people living on the east side compared to our communities is a ten-year difference, and this has to do with our nutrition."

Ellen and Sprouts vowed to donate $100,000 for their efforts so people like the Machokotos can continue to grow in a food desert.

If you're interested in Spaces of Opportunity, click here.


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