Social media is a wonderful thing. I know I say that constantly, but it really is. I met Shannon Mattice Baker on Facebook, even though she lives across the country from me and we’ve never met in real life, I find myself calling her a friend. Her passion for agriculture, and her passion to wanting to pass it on caught my attention. She needs our help. If you have a few bucks to spare, won’t you think about it? This is a wonderful program that we need many, many more of. Thank you!
Since 2010 I’ve been working with Seedleaf in Lexington, KY. Seedleaf is a nonprofit that nourishes its communities by growing, cooking, sharing, and recycling food, with the intent to increase the amount, affordability, nutritional value, and sustainability of food available to people at risk of hunger in central Kentucky.
I discovered Seedleaf while in college shortly after abandoning my quest to become a dietitian to pursue a degree in Sustainable Agriculture emphasis: food justice. Which is a great story in itself, but for another day.
SEEDS (Service Education and Entrepreneurship in Downtown Spaces) is a youth program that targets 5th – 11th grade students living in areas of Lexington, Kentucky that have been identified as food deserts. In an attempt to connect these youth with healthy fresh food, participants are involved in all aspects of growing food in an urban setting.
The first day we gathered in the garden I was so excited because we were going to partake in a tasting tour. I had plotted a path that would have us chomping fresh sugar snaps, sampling the sweetness of baby greens and basking in the simple pleasure of green beans plucked from the vine perfectly warmed by the afternoon sun. My enthusiasm was not shared by the youth. The activity was met with distrust, bad attitudes and darn near mutiny.
Students gain hands on experience in growing and caring for a garden, meal preparation, food preservation and nutrition basics. Participants also learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship as they work to develop a business venture that involves selling their healthy products in their community. It is our goal that the participants will become healthy food ambassadors for their communities.
These same youth who were sure beets were poisonous and claimed to be food allergic to anything green when the summer began, blew my mind as we prepared the refreshments for our end of the season celebration. They made the most impressive bruschetta I had ever tasted and made it even more amazing by adding some lemon cucumber they had grown because “The tastes of the tomatoes and cucumbers work well together and I think it will make it prettier.”
I have seen these youth make the connection with real food and witnessed how the skills they develop empower them. I’ve helped them fill out job applications and watched them swell with pride when they hear me list skills they have mastered that are not just great life skills, but marketable skills that give them an edge on job opportunities.
We are about to embark on our 5th year of offering SEEDS and need some help. We have an indiegogo campaign to help us raise the funds to support this endeavor. Even a $1 donation gets us a little closer to our goal of reaching out to these youth.
Please go here to donate https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/seeds-keep-growing