Local seasonal produce is fresher and more sustainable than produce sold at large supermarkets and it promotes relationships between consumers and local farmers. Cutting down on miles traveled means less food waste, less fuel used, and, of course, tastier fruits and veggies!
Food Connect Sydney highlights these many advantages of sourcing produce locally. Their mission is to grow healthy food communities by delivering boxes of fresh and seasonal produce direct from local farmers around Sydney. They stress the importance of knowing the farmers who grow our food and how it is grown and believe large supermarkets have created a disconnect between us as consumers and these local farmers.
Now Food Connect Sydney wants to take the farmer-consumer relationship one step further and bring YOU to meet local farmers. They are running a series of sustainable farm tours where you will be guided through local sustainable farms that supply Food Connect Sydney, connect with farmers, participate in a Q&A session, learn how to cook with the farm’s produce, and have to opportunity to purchase delicious in-season fruits and veggies. What’s really great about this campaign is your money goes directly to paying the farmers for their time. Just $35 buys you a farm tour ticket and a little extra will get you the ticket plus a harvest pack from the farm.
What good do you want to create? Visit our site to learn about how to start your own campaign.
Growing Food, Nurturing Leaders
By Adam Smiley Poswolsky
I recently had the inspiring opportunity to speak with Jeanne Firth, program manager for Grow Dat Youth Farm, about her passion for food justice and youth empowerment. Grow Dat Youth Farm creates a healthy and supportive work environment for high school-aged youth from New Orleans who face limited job opportunities. With a focus on developing a sense of responsibility, community, environmental stewardship, and service among participants, the farm enhances leadership and teamwork abilities through the collaborative work of growing food.
Grow Dat’s recent campaign on StartSomeGood raised nearly $6,000, and over the course of their 20-week job skills training program in 2012, young people grew over 7,250 pounds of food on the Grow Dat Farm, donating 2,750 pounds of this harvest to address hunger and food insecurity in New Orleans, and raising $13,500 from produce sales at local restaurants and farmer’s markets.
Jeanne, what is your personal story? How did you get involved in food issues? Why are you passionate about food justice and youth empowerment?
I come from several generations of immigrant farmers on the Kansas prairie, and the vast majority of my family still farms. I grew up in Kansas City, but I never felt far from the land. In high school, I got involved in the global anti-hunger movement, working with international hunger relief and anti-poverty groups. I believe food is about more than calories, it’s about culture. Food is a tool for talking about livelihoods, and human rights. I did my graduate academic study at the London School of Economics in food and human rights; using food as a way to understand injustice, looking at who has access to food, and why only a small number of people have access to healthy food both in the U.S. and internationally.
As a youth, I benefited from many youth empowerment organizations that encouraged my voice in social justice and social change, which I why I love working at Grow Dat. I first started working with young people at Mission Pie, an amazing bakery/cafe in San Francisco that provides job skills training to youth.
How does Grow Dat Youth Farm work?
We hire young people in New Orleans to grow food for their community. These young people are hired and paid to participate in our educational program as well as grow chemical-free food on the farm. There is a very high teenage unemployment rate in New Orleans, especially among African-Americans, and teenagers that do have jobs often work in the fast food industry. At Grow Dat, we believe that act of growing healthy food, of growing healthy food for your community, is both a meaningful and transformational experience. Sixty percent of the food we grow is sold, and the other 40% is donated to those in the local community who cannot afford it (families, partners, food banks, free restaurants). We find that that the work our young people do has a larger social impact than many of the jobs that would be normally available to the average teenager.
Explain how your program model provides job training and leadership skills for youth, in addition to agricultural skills.
We believe agriculture is an incredible tool to develop young leaders. Chances are young people from an urban environment probably have not been exposed to farming, and even though most will not become farmers, agriculture is an excellent teacher of teamwork, persistence, attention to detail, and long-term planning. We nurture a diverse group of young leaders, bringing together youth from different backgrounds, different schools, different parts of the city, across race and class lines, in what becomes a transformational learning experience. We also teach hard job skills through weighing produce, learning to price food, and developing marketing and customer service skills in selling our product to the public and representing the organization at markets.
What other urban farm projects and programs did you learn from and try to emulate in building Grow Dat? What resources and best practices are available for others creating social change through youth leadership and urban agriculture programs?
There is such a high need for this type of work in New Orleans and other cities throughout the country, and it’s great to see that a lot of organizations are doing incredible work in this area. Grow Dat is modeled after in Boston, which has been engaging young people in sustainable agriculture for over twenty years, as well as in Austin. The Food Project provides excellent on their website, and , thanks to a grant from the New Orleans Food and Farm Network.
How have you utilized partnerships with New Orleans-area institutions, to further the impact of your organization?
Grow Dat’s success is tied to a robust network of engaged partners. Tulane City Center which is housed within the Tulane School of Architecture, has been essential from day one. Both Grow Dat co-directors, Johanna Gilligan and Leo Gorman, are Tulane graduates, and Tulane City Center is providing technical support to create our campus on the farm, which will include seven retro-fitted shipping containers that are going to house our outdoor classroom, administrative offices, youth locker rooms, a teaching kitchen, bathrooms, and refrigerated food storage. All of their work is done with an attention to a highly energy-efficient and sustainable design.
What is the greatest challenge for Grow Dat in 2012?
Our biggest challenge revolves around sustainable growth. How do we serve more young people, and grow more food, while still maintaining quality of excellence for the young people we serve? That is what we are focusing on right now.
Adam Smiley Poswolsky
I am a writer, editor, and social change inspirer. I am a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow, and I care about supporting social entrepreneurs and encouraging people to live out their full potential in life. For the last two years, I worked at the U.S. Peace Corps, writing speeches and working on special projects including President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. Prior, I received my BA in film studies from Wesleyan University and worked as a film producer and location scout. I live in San Francisco, but I travel often, mostly by dancing and smiling. Check out my blog and follow me on Twitter
Images courtesy of Grow Dat Youth Farm.
To learn more about Grow Dat Youth Farm and how to get involved, check out their , and this infographic about their work.
Real Good Food is a trading, sales, and organizational platform for cooks at home and local food artisans to discover and celebrate the good food in their own local economies. Thanks to your support, it raised $8,409 to develop a platform for any user to post and search for local food, join/create groups, and host/participate in local food events. When people can purchase foods from local artisans that they know and trust, there is full transparency in the origin of the food and, hence, the system will encourage healthier people and healthier local economies.
Reagan High in Austin, Texas is a success story—an example of a struggling high school where, after the threat of closure, students rallied against tough odds to raise test scores enough to save the school. The Brick family is determined to turn Reagan High into an inspiring example of success to rally students in struggling schools across the country. During their book release party for Saving the School: A Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform, they will present a scholarship fund for promising students at the school. The funds that have been raised so far will help pay for the entire book release party and the total funding goal will go towards a new scholarship fund.
Vibewire ensures that young people are included in conversations that matter. It captures conversations that matter to young people and showcases them online so that people can engage in conversations based on what issues are most important to them. It also provides young people with a space and resources to take action on the issues that matter to them and launch their ventures. The Vibewire Hub is a co-working space that supports younger social innovators on their missions to create change. Normally, users must pay to access the Hub, but, thanks to 47 generous backers, Vibewire raised $3,270 to support three projects in the Vibewire Hub for three months.
The Center for a New American Dream promotes Americans shifting their consumption to improve quality of life and protect the environment. The Center works with organizations, governments, and individuals to help them conserve resources and support community engagement. The Center’s newest project is The Guide to Going Local—a free guide in the Community Action Kit that provides steps people can take to strengthen their local economy. The Center kept things exciting over at StartSomeGood last week, rallying in the last few days of its campaign to raise over $3,000, not only bringing the campaign over its tipping point, but also surpassing it by $720. Ultimately, the Center for a New American Dream raised a total of $8,720 that will be used to develop its Guide to Going Local.
Social entrepreneurs, have these successful campaigns inspired you to start your own good? Do you have a social enterprise, a non-profit, or an amazing idea that needs some momentum to take off? Visit our site to find out how to start your own campaign today. Still have questions? We have answers—check out our FAQ section. What good do you want to create?
Since 2007, Blog Action Day has gathered bloggers from around the world to focus on writing about one important global topic on the same day. The theme for Blog Action Day 2011 is FOOD so we’d like to highlight some of our food-related ventures, past and present.
- Wildstar Farm and Folk School is a farm and education center that teaches folk arts and sustainable living skills and increases access to healthy foods. The campaign helped Wildstar Farm and Folk School’s founders put a down payment on a truck to haul their trailer while in search for land for their farm.
- Berkeley Youth Alternatives (BYA) Garden Program engages at-risk youths from low income communities in a paid garden internship. Through this program, BYA is able to support these youths in all aspects of their lives. It provides them with health education, cooking classes, counseling, and academic support. This program also makes fresh produce accessible to residents in neighborhoods where fresh markets are not located. BYA’s campaign on StartSomeGood allowed it to hire a garden assistant and send two interns to the Rooted in Community National Youth & Food Justice Conference.
- Original Green Community Food Plan is a local food system that allows low-income South Los Angeles residents to grow fresh produce at its urban farming sites for free. The residents can then either keep or distribute what they grow. This program not only raises interest in healthy eating habits; it also encourages social interaction within the community. The campaign helped Original Green purchase materials for 12 raised beds, develop the site’s space for community gatherings, and train the residents about food production.
- Youth Building Healthy Communities Oakland Dons puts together coupon booklets for families in East Oakland so that they have access to healthy foods and information. The coupon booklets are rewards for students that do well in their classes and contain vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables and discounts at local fitness centers. The campaign allowed Oakland Dons to print its coupon books and expand its network of partners. Oakland Dons pays a monthly fee to its partners in exchange for the coupons in the books.
- Last but not least, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) is a venture on StartSomeGood that will be starting a campaign very shortly. NAMA works to stop factory fishing operations that are a detriment to our oceans, environment, fishing economies, coastal communities, and marine based food systems. Look for its new campaign in the next few weeks!
By supporting these amazing food-related social ventures, StartSomeGood has been able to play a major part in the healthy and sustainable FOOD revolution, and for that we are very proud.