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A Second Year in the Garden

Sadie With A Volunteer At The Farm
Sadie With A Volunteer At The Farm
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 third of a series of blogs profiling the FoodCorps members who are serving at The Food Project during the 2012-13 school year.


One day, FoodCorps fellow Sadie Richards was working in the school garden she had started at Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury when a lone student wandered out to work with her. Often accused of being a rambunctious troublemaker, the boy had been kicked out of gym class and had requested to visit Sadie in the garden. As they weeded together, the boy visibly calmed. He worked efficiently and even found a small snake to watch after for the rest of the class period. Later, Sadie relayed the events to his classroom teachers, who were surprised to hear of his calm temperament and focus. This type of experience is "a testament to the different styles of learning that can take place in the garden," says Sadie, "and the refuge that a garden can offer, and the unexpected revelations we can make there."

Last year, Sadie was a member of the inaugural class of FoodCorps service members and is currently continuing her work with FoodCorps as a FoodCorps fellow. She holds a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and global health from the University of Vermont and a master's in public health from Boston University. She loves working for FoodCorps because her work combines "agriculture ... and working with communities, growing things, working with kids, and connecting farmers with cafeterias."

In her first year with FoodCorps, Sadie served at the Boston Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services Department, and served children at the Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury. Sadie oversaw the creation of a new garden at the Dearborn School and taught a large variety of garden-focused lessons, including composting, cooking, insect identification, ecology, environmental justice, and more. As part of the district’s Local Lunch Thursday program, she also made regular appearances in school cafeterias across the district to orchestrate taste tests and show off new or unfamiliar local vegetables being served on the lunch line.

This year, Sadie is one of the first group of FoodCorps state fellows. As the Massachusetts Fellow, she provides support for the state's eight current service members and helps maintain close communication between service members, the organizations they are place with, and FoodCorps National. "I am so inspired by these service members," says Sadie. "They are just incredible people." She shares helpful resources and her personal experiences as a way to address service members' questions, frustrations, and accomplishments during their service. In addition, Sadie strives to recruit new service members and publicize the work FoodCorps, The Food Project, and CitySprouts (the other Mass. Host organization) are accomplishing together.

In addition, Sadie has taken on a special fellowship project: an educational soil-building initiative. By the end of the year, she hopes to create a compost and soil-building demonstration center at The Food Project that is an educational hub for Boston’s schools, community gardens, urban farms, and backyard growers. Along the way, she is creating a worm bin in the Dudley Greenhouse and helping to accelerate compost production at The Food Project's urban farms in Roxbury and Dorchester.

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