Celebrating 15 New Garden Grants for Louisiana Schools
Two acres have produced 10,000 pounds of fresh, healthy vegetables. Thirty percent of what is grown is shared harvest — and is donated to a dozen community pantries and nonprofit organizations. The remainder is sold via CSA (community supported agriculture) shares, at farmer’s markets or provided to those who work the farm.
Our celebration began the night before over dinner. We gathered with our partners from United Health Group to deepen our understanding of one another — as people, as partners and as advocates for change. We shared our food as readily as we share a sense of responsibility to do everything we can to provide a healthy future for our kids. We talked about how, often, it feels there is so much to do and our effort is never enough.
That is true — if we were each going at the outcomes alone. The challenges that face our youth are greater than any one person or any one organization. True collaboration is what yields results.
The most valuable crop Grow Dat Youth Farm grows is young leaders. Each year the farm interviews hundreds of high school students from across the city for 54 jobs on the farm. Half of their time is spent learning to grow food and working the farm. The other half is filled with leadership trainings that include topics like sustainable agriculture, food justice and teamwork.
Gatherings on the farm are opened and closed with a circle. As described by our youth leaders, this moment allows people to come together and to leave behind anything that might have been bothersome before they arrived.
I remember sentiments like gratitude, sunshine, hopeful, peace, fulfilled, nurtured and energized. "What you all accomplished together in an hour would have taken us all day." Devon Turner, Grow Dat Executive Director reminded the group, “no task is too small to make a huge difference.”
Our kids are worth every effort large and small. We are grateful to all of our collaborative partners who are changing the way we feed our kids.