Installation #1 of my eclectic summer blog.  This is about food, farms, food insecurity, food uncertainty, sustainable agriculture, urban gardening & farming, social and economic justice, and a little bit about youth empowerment.

BootsFoodProjectThose of you who grew up in countries where farming is a part of daily life, may laugh at my great and sudden enthusiasm. I am a city girl, a mall rat, a prissy princess in pink…until I had my son.  I however have always been about justice and my mom’s life work (read some prior blog posts) was about child and youth welfare.  I’ve attempted four times in my entire life to plant my own garden, each time more successful than the last attempt, but no attempt has been truly successful in my eyes.

Imagine my luck to be involved in 2 events/activities in one week that allowed me to experience urban farming, youth development, and justice all at once. Do you know where your food comes from? How often do you eat fresh from the farm fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, or meat? Do you go to your city or town’s Farmer’s Market? Do you participate in a CSA? I’d love to hear from you! I must admit I am a slacker but am re-inspired to do better. Especially because I want our son to have a good model for eating well, knowing where his food comes from, and understanding the issues many face related to food insecurity and uncertainty.

I worked half a day at the Food Project in Lynn. http://thefoodproject.org/ Along with having 3 farms (Lynn, Beverly, Hamilton/Wenham, MA) they empower youth to farm, learn and speak about food insecurity and social justice issues.  They take volunteers and it’s not just a “come and pull weeds and move compost” experience.  There is some learning involved. They have a farmer’s market, CSA, deliver some meals to elder agencies. Check them out. FoodProjectsign

I attended a fundraiser for Mill City Grows. http://www.millcitygrows.org/ It was called Farm to Cocktail. We got to drink cocktails made from ginger, beets, strawberries and other farm-grown goodies. They support urban farming/gardening, a Farmer’s Market, mobile farmer’s market, classes, CSA, etc. It is a great example of urban and community gardening and helping immigrants retain their culture in a new land. We also got a dance to the Party Band!

Farm2CocktailFinally, the Farm to Cocktail event was held in the UTEC event space. https://www.utec-lowell.org/ UTEC is the United Teen Equality Center. They empower youth to be well, stay in or return to school, find jobs. They do workforce training. They do advocacy and work on policy issues. They recycle mattresses….and so much more!! They have a yummy café open to the public with some food supplied by Mill City Grows.

 

My short blog cannot do justice to the importance of fresh food, learning about & helping those who do not have access to or cannot afford fresh food, or justice to the issue of empowering youth. I could write a thesis on all of the above, but this alas is a blog. LOOK around your community. How can you get involved? What can you do to make a difference? I am going to learn more about farming (my husband who grew up working farms thinks it’s funny but knows it’s important to me), stay involved with the Food Project (service-learning for my students), Mill City Grows, and UTEC.  I plan to attend a gardener’s workshop so look for that blog and I will be developing a service-learning course that incorporates a farm experience so look for that blog also. My mom would not ever have farmed or gardened but she would have supported all of the above efforts! Do what you can!

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2 thoughts on “

  1. You know, it is pretty amazing how things in the universe work out. I did a Service Learning “boot camp” though they did not call it that (I don’t think)…and our project was through a local church. We went out into the community to promote an after-school program to serve the youth of the community and a kick-off event. In any case, I loved it: I got to talk (A LOT) in Spanish. Farm work would not have been a good fit for me given my allergies. Talking, on the other hand, well, you know about that.

    In any case. I grew up knowing where my food came from as the majority of our shopping in Santiago, Chile was in the local, (mostly) bi-weekly FERIA. At my grand mother’s and aunt’s houses in the country, it was all FERIA, all local, all the time (that is all there was).
    I shop all local, small vendors. In my current life, I shop local vendors at Whole Foods, and from now to Thanksgiving, I shop for produce largely at the local Farmer’s Market. In addition, for things like coffee and tea I buy pretty much only Fair Trade Certified (with an occasional cheat when I am trying to reduce my spending. When I buy pastry and/or bread I shop at AJ King. Not only because it is darn good, but because they largely locally source their ingredients. Furthermore, I do not support online or brick and mortar stores that do not pay a fair wage to their employees (Walmart) or when they exploit their employees (Amazon). I must say that shopping and eating this way has made me more aware than ever of just how privileged I am; it is an expensive way to live (Whole Paycheck. And I am painfully aware of how many people cannot afford to buy the way that I so though my way of shopping certainly requires making “sacrifices” in other areas.

    Clearly you are on the mark when you say that this is a social justice issue. Getting involved with the programs you mention and getting young people participating will have an impact on them, and in the communities in which they live and work. Yea! Shannon. What a lucky kid Ngwa is.

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