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Food Justice in the Dudley Greenhouse

Marlie Leading a Cooking Lesson
Marlie Leading a Cooking Lesson
In August, The Food Project embarked on its second year as the Massachusetts host site for FoodCorps, a national nonprofit organization that works with schools to create a healthier school food environment. What follows is the second of a series of blogs profiling the FoodCorps members who are serving at The Food Project during the 2012-13 school year. 


Marlie Wilson shares an important thread with The Food Project - they were both born in Lincoln, Mass. Now a FoodCorps service member serving at The Food Project, Marlie grew up just one mile from TFP's farm in Lincoln. Although she never participated in TFP's Summer Youth Program, Marlie developed a strong interest in improving the food system for broader social change. In her second year at New York University, Marlie studied abroad in Cuba, where she completed a project on urban agriculture in Havana. Her studies in Havana piqued her interest in "reclaiming the land, how to grow on that land, and for whom." Upon her return to NYU, Marlie decided to major in food justice. In addition, she volunteered and interned with FarmAid in Cambridge, Mass., interned at JustFood in NYC, worked at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC, and helped to found a student food cooperative at NYU.

During her last semester at NYU, Marlie found out about FoodCorps. "It just made total sense to apply for FoodCorps and get to dive into exactly the kind of work that I had been studying and getting to participate in as an intern," says Wilson. This year, Marlie is teaching garden education, nutrition, cooking, and plant science to second and third grade students from Winthrop and Mason Elementary Schools in Roxbury, Mass. The children visit her in the Dudley Greenhouse, where they have their own garden plots to grow vegetables and herbs.

This winter, Marlie and her students are growing a plethora of crops, including lettuce, arugula, spinach, mizuna, carrots, turnips, beets, radishes, dill, cilantro, kale, and collards. Over the course of the year, Marlie hopes to inspire her students “to make healthier food decisions and get excited about cooking and the possibilities of food.” The real joy, though, comes from “those little moments.” A few weeks ago, for instance, the children planted their first seeds in their garden beds. One week later, they returned to the greenhouse to discover, in awe, that tiny green seedlings had sprouted. Marlie immediately saw “the look of wonder on their faces” when they realized that they had produced the tiny plants themselves. In the next few months, she hopes to empower her students by having them get their hands dirty while they learn to garden "literally from the ground up."

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