ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – The east side of Anderson has been known as a food desert for years.

“There’s a lot of people around here that are homeless not able to pay for these types of things,” resident Gregory Burns said.

Many people living in a food desert are stuck in a cycle of eating unhealthy, processed foods.

Zephaniah Smith said he knows what that is like.

“I was in a family with heavy food insecurity,” Smith said.

Smith said he grew up in a single mother household, where his mom struggled to put food on the table.

“She would go many nights without eating so that we could eat,” Smith said.

He said the things he experienced as a child have inspired him, years later.

“The Cleo Bailey School just kept showing up in my feed on the internet. Just it’s there it’s there and I’m like alright if this is what I’m supposed to do then let’s go for it,” Smith said.

Smith bought the Cleo Bailey School in the middle of the east side of Anderson and turned it into a community garden.

“By building that garden in the community. One, we’re feeding people’s needs. Two, we’re bringing people together as a community. Both the outside community of Anderson,” explained Smith. “The folks that are out of the neighborhood and the people inside of Anderson, they get to interact with one another.”

He said he wants the community to help grow this garden, so healthy food isn’t just consumed, but it starts to become the lifestyle.

“There’s educational components that come along with it and it actually gets the nutrition in the body by bringing them into the fold of actually producing their own food,” Smith said.

The hope is that this garden will expand into a center to provide after school care, classes, and family support.