Chelsea Looks Back at her Seed Crew Summer
Each summer, The Food Project’s much. During Seed Crew there were Seed Crew hires 72 teenagers from a lot of people in my crew who were diverse cultural, racial, economic, different from me and lived different and geographic backgrounds to lives. Because of this, I’ve learned how work on our urban and suburban to communicate with people who aren’t farms in Lincoln, Boston, Beverly, the same as me. Wenham, and Lynn. From Sudbury to Dorchester and from Ipswich to Lynn, Q: How has your time with The Food young people interested in farming Project been meaningful for you at home and making the world a better place or at school? are busily applying to be part of this A: With school, I didn’t used to try out summer’s Seed Crew. Young people with new things. I was always scared hired for these that I wouldn’t be successful six-and-a-half or that it would be a waste of transformative I was better Ashley C., 17, Lynn, Seed Crew and my time. During Seed Crew, weeks build her crew mates on the Wenham farm I learned that sometimes equipped to discuss important even though you have probably going to be there for a week skills like how issues surrounding those feelings it can be a and then come back.” That is another to effectively good experience to try new the food system. thing I am proud of myself for— plant, weed, things. At home, there’s a sticking it out and still wanting to do and harvest; lot of things that we discuss it, even now in Dirt Crew. how to work at The Food Project that I as a team start to notice more around Q: How has Dirt Crew built on your across identity my community. I notice knowledge, interests, or skills developed difference my eating habits and my in Seed Crew? while learning family’s eating habits more, about food and why certain things are A: This winter, we’ve done a lot of workshops. We did a lot of workshops access issues in the way they are. in Seed Crew too but I feel like with Massachusetts; Q: Did you imagine yourself the knowledge I had from Seed Crew, and so working on a farm before Seed I was more comfortable in joining much more. Chelsea P., 17, Dorchester Crew? the conversations that we had in Interested workshops, and I was better equipped teens have until March 7, 2018 to submit their A: No. I don’t think anybody thought I to discuss issues surrounding the food application and reference materials at would last! My sister was like, “You’re system. thefoodproject.org. After completing summer Seed Crew, young people have the option to apply to Dirt Crew to work on Saturdays throughout the school year. Chelsea P., 17, Dorchester, now a Dirt Crew member, shares her reflections of last summer’s Seed Crew experience. Written by Jasmine Mays, Dorchester Build-a-Garden Participant
Black Urban Farming: A Seed of Hope
Q: What is something that you learned during your Seed Crew summer? A: I’m a shy person and I’m not used to being around people who aren’t similar to me. If they aren’t, then I usually shut down and don’t talk very
My family and I started with urban farming back in 2013. I’m a local Roxbury mother and my family and I live in a cooperative housing community in the city. I never thought farming was a thing for city folks and not having come from farming background, I certainly didn’t think it was something I could ever accomplish. continued inside!
Black Urban Farming (cont.) great thing about gardening is that it is something that all members of the family can get involved with. I remember having those long Jasmine’s four children helping to lay down the days with four little ones ground fabric during their garden build following me around looking for something to do. Many times, my entire family cucumbers for the they wanted something hands-on season AND have more to share! and “not boring.” What kids don’t Farming is one of the most like digging in the dirt?
There is always something new and exciting to learn & discover! There was ALWAYS something new to discover in the garden. I found that there was always something to figure out, a new bug to see, a mystery to solve, and a treasure to find. I remember being in awe at how rapidly things change within the garden. Learning all the names of the d i f f e r en t plants, the needs of Jasmine’s daughter harvesting each plant, cucumbers and being the first to remember getting see those a call from Jess babies go Liborio from The from seed Food Project. She to harvest is and a bunch of absolutely teenagers who a blessing. work as part of Dirt It brings Crew, came to my gratitude yard and helped a n d us install our first reflection raised-bed. We of the started with just an Jasmine’s family’s bountiful garden Almighty eight by four foot and it cedar wood frame. We paid a small price for the bed encourages the children to value and received enough compost to fill the process and food they helped to it, 12 seedlings, and an invitation grow. to attend a gardening workshop that would teach even the newest Save Money!!! of newbies how to get started. This may be the best perk of all. In addition to the main start up, Not only is growing local, organic the support system and kindness produce in your backyard fun, that lives in that space is absolutely inspiring, and peaceful, but it’s also amazing. Lead farmer, Danielle a HUGE way that families Andrews, was instrumental in can save and eat healthy all encouraging me and anyone else at once. I’ll use my cucumber who walked into the Dudley patch as an example. The G r e e n h o u s e f o r s u p p o r t a n d first year we grew cucumbers guidance. The community growers together, I went to Whole that use the space are also a F o o d s a n d p u r c h a s e d a great resource. I’m amazed at the bunch of organic seeds for work and energy that lives in the two dollars per packet. With greenhouse. I say this often, it’s my that two-dollar packet there favorite place in the city. were enough seeds to grow maybe 20 plants. I only had The Benefits the space to grow four plants. Farming saved me from losing To my amazement these four my mind with a bunch of kids. The plants were enough to feed
revolutionary things we can do as a people.
I learned this to be true after practicing farming for the first year. I’ve grown so much and have gotten closer to my goal of providing 100% of my family’s produce each season. I was able to see the wealth and blessing, as well as the growth, not only in the garden space but in my family and community as a result. I understand that for many of us, we don’t come from monetary wealth and status. However, I find having these skills of survival, are the most crucial things we must learn to do as we develop ourselves and our community toward sovereignty. A quote from a favorite book of mine says, “Not having money is not the end of the world if one can see life, plants and food sprouting from the ground. So, I may not have any money, but I can go and pull that crop from the ground and eat it, and that reality or knowledge gives me hope.” (Hollis Watkins, from his book, Brother Hollis: the Sankofa of a Movement Man) We have since expanded beyond this single raised-bed and are using community spaces for growing as well. For information for women looking to get involved with urban farming visit www.facebook.com/ growwithmysister
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For info. about Build-a-Garden, thefoodproject.org/BaG
What also inspired us is that there was ALWAYS something new to discover in the garden. I found that there was always something to figure out, a new bug to see, a mystery to solve, and a treasure to find.
I started this adventure while I was home, raising my four small children and getting a first go at motherhood and teaching. I saw a flyer posted and we applied with The Food Project to participate in their Build-a-Garden program. I
Youth. Food. Community.
Mapping a Decade of Boston’s Raised-Beds Gardens
In 2007, The Food Project began building raised-bed gardens in Boston. That year, we built 60 beds at 50 sites—mostly for families in their yards but also for several organizations to create shared garden spaces. The Food Project began promoting raised-bed gardening as a solution to growing in soil contaminated by lead, a common problem in cities. We quickly learned from the gardeners 2007- 2017 that raised-beds provided many more benefits including 847 garden sites 1,051 raised-beds built a g r i c u l t u r a l , health, social, and emotional. Fast forward to 2017. A decade later and The Food Project has built a total of 1,051 raised-beds at 847 Boston locations over the years. Currently, Yun-Yun Li, The Food Project’s Organizational FAMILY GARDEN: 1 - 2 BEDS Learning Fellow, is evaluating the FAMILY GARDEN: 3+ BEDS work we do. This is a sneak peak of that work to date. More to come! ORGANIZATION GARDEN: 1 - 2 BEDS
ORGANIZATION GARDEN: 3+ BEDS
Celebrate at the 2018 Big Shindig!
announce the 2018 Big Shindig on April 25 to celebrate our 27th year working towards a more equitable and just food system. You are incredibly important to this work, so come celebrate! This is an evening not to be missed with engaging youth presentations and a lively auction and raffle. Last year, we raised $385,000 to support The Food Project’s critical work with youth, food, and community. Evan O., 19, of Dorchester, and Carolyn O., 17, of Lynn eloquently shared what this organization means to them. Featured guest, and alumna of The Food Project, Leah Penniman (Seed Crew ’96), co-director of Soul Fire Farm in Petersburg, NY,
shared her vision for all people to have agency in the food system. This year, we are working hard to bring to the forefront the many compelling stories of the people and communities with whom we collaborate. Every year, more incredible young people and adults enter The Food Project’s extended family—teens in the youth crews, volunteers on the farms, community members shopping at the farmers markets, colleagues attending the Institute, donors who support this work financially, and all of those who attend events like the Big Shindig. We are extremely grateful for the ways we are able to grow together and the many supporters who make it all possible.
SAVE THE DATE The Food Project’s Big Shindig An evening of food, youth presentations, and a lively auction & raffle to support The Food Project.
The Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts Presenting Sponsors
Linda and Bill McQuillan Sponsored and catered by Gourmet Caterers. Become a sponsor today! thefoodproject.org/bigshindig
The Food Project 3
J.’s Corner As we come upon spring, I find myself reflecting on the great accomplishments we made together in 2017 to leverage state funding to increase access to fresh food in our communities. I also recognize that there is a tremendous amount of work yet to be done to build on this progress to reorganize the food system in a way that supports all of the families in the commonwealth. None of this could have happened without your support. One of the key accomplishments from 2017 was the funding of the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). HIP provides a dollar-for-dollar match (up to $80/month) for SNAP dollars spent on fruits and vegetables purchased at participating farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs.
While the Massachusetts legislature originally funded HIP for $1.35 million—the actual need was more than double. To date, the program has provided almost $3 million in fresh, local produce—helping to support 33,000 families. The fact that so many needed HIP exposed an issue that we here at The Food Project know all too well. Our own neighbors often quietly go hungry. Vital federal assistance programs like SNAP, and statewide programs like HIP, act as critical stop-gaps that provide access to much needed fruits and vegetables. While the House is currently reviewing the Fiscal Year 2019 budget that includes $6.2 million for the Healthy Incentives Program, funding at this level is not guaranteed and more is needed. We must also work to close the
Farm Shares Available!
Get 20 weeks of fresh, local produce from June through October. On sale now! • •
On-Farm Locations: Beverly, Lincoln Box Pick-Up Sites: Dudley Town Common, Jamaica Plain, Lynn, Somerville
“SNAP Gap.” There are 793,000 people in the state who receive MassHealth. While they are likely eligible for SNAP, they aren’t receiving benefits in part because of separate application processes. A solution involves streamlining the two applications—minimizing work for both the applicant and the state. This change could potentially open the door for twice the number of people to receive SNAP benefits that they already qualify for. Considering the monumental response to HIP this past year, fixing the “SNAP Gap” is critical in alleviating nutrition deficits in this state. Join us in keeping the pressure on legislators and working creatively to build a food system that makes healthy food available to all. —J. Harrison, Executive Director
Boston 555 Dudley Street, Dorchester Lincoln 10 Lewis Street, Lincoln North Shore 120 Munroe Street, Lynn thefoodproject.org
and editorial are contributed by Amanda Chin. Additional editorial contributed by Jasmine Mays, Ross Condit, and J. Harrison.
The Food Project’s mission is to create a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system.
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