[slideshow] RootDown LA was founded with a focus on demand-side efforts for food systems change - with our portable stoves, knives, sautee pans and spices, we get in a room with kids and no one leaves until everyone has discovered SOME technique to make the veggies we previously despised, taste better. We leave people wanting more – beets, broccoli and even this year, brussels sprouts. We’ve now got this demand part down, so we were excited last year to receive funds from Crail Johnson to launch new supply-side programming for food systems change. RootDown Horticultural Program Manger, Ali Bhai explains the ways in which we are working with youth to increase supplies of healthy food in South LA:
We take seriously the tried and true formula that if you connect people to the source of their food, they are more likely to value what they put in their bodies. Our supply-side efforts started back in September when we teamed up with the We Can Foundation to deliver the first entrepreneurship and urban farming training to our Youth Leaders. Ledette Gambini joined me to develop this training with the intent to impart the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and the principles of contemporary sustainable urban farming in an integrated, hands-on way.
Students learned about business options, market and competitive research, producing for profit, sustainable farm design, and the state of our current food system; all with the underlying goal of starting a micro-enterprise that converts sub-acre city spaces such as backyards and school gardens into edible landscapes - the harvest from which is taken to market. This winter we delivered a condensed version of this training to the students of the Social Justice Learning Institute at Morningside High School in Inglewood. We’re taking the show on the road!
We have also revived the garden shared by New Tech and Jefferson High School. Last December, Jeff students planted 25 fruit trees to mark the reclaiming of the garden space for education programming. Since then, we have been developing standards-based class lessons that integrate the garden. Students are learning about compost and plant propagation in Biology and Environmental Studies classes in Jeff’s Green Academy. Students in CAD drawing and Sketch Drawing classes are learning edible landscape design. RDLA is moving forward with the vision of a school garden serving both as a multi-purpose outdoor classroom and a food forest to supply our programs with the veggies we're convincing more and more people to eat every day!