The Food Project: Youth. Food. Community.

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Our Goals

   

 

Our Goals

“All people are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.  I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”  --Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

The Food Project works with communities to mobilize resources and develop creative solutions to key challenges facing individuals and cities today:  hunger, pollution, lead and pesticide poisoning, and obesity, as well as barriers to diversity, fair wages, community unity, youth empowerment and small-business farming.  It all starts with food, the common and basic element that links varied people and organizations.  The Food Project envisions an improved quality of life for the entire region and nation.

 

 

Stimulating and Nurturing Youth Knowledge and Leadership Skills

Youth need cultivation as much as a farm does.  Youth from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds, living in vastly different communities, rarely get the opportunity to collaborate and create a comfortable familiarity.  Youth are also rarely entrusted with truly purposeful, effective teamwork where they can build both specific knowledge and transferable leadership skills.  At The Food Project, agriculture, enterprise and service combine to create a rigorous, practical and integrated experience. Through its programs, youth find that work on the land can be a powerful equalizer, teacher and catalyst for personal, local and global change.  Best of all, they can take their newfound business, culinary and speaking/presentation skills with them wherever they go.

 

 

Breaking Down Stereotypes and Building on Diversity

What does a farmer look like?  What defines a farm?  How does food – and its abundance or scarcity -- function in your home, in your school, in your neighborhood, in your world?  The youth who work with The Food Project come to their experience from city and suburb, from different ethnicities and economic backgrounds, from varied families and philosophies, to discover how to embrace and transcend differences.   As an African-American visitor to the farm once commented, “the beauty of farming is that the plants don’t care what color your skin is.”  Through collaboration and conversation, youth can lead their communities to grow new ways to share, learn, celebrate and build toward common goals.

 

 

Building on Residents’ Strengths and Community Assets

Abandoned city lots are litter magnets, and may also attract dangerous activity.  By working together to reclaim and safeguard these spaces, neighbors identify their community resources and make connections that bridge differences.  They discover stores of resident leadership, talent, spirit and determination they can tap for further collaborations.  Urban farms can also help people connect to their native lands or cultures by becoming a source for produce used in traditional cooking but not generally available in local supermarkets.

 

 

Avoiding Lead/Pesticide Poisoning and Improving the Land

Urban backyard gardeners may not realize that their property’s history may have left high lead-levels in the soil.  In a diverse community where many gardeners do not speak English as a first language, they may not always understand the toxicity of the pesticides and chemicals they use.  Education and information – plus free soil testing and compost -- can help people make healthier decisions for their own bodies and for the ecosystem generally.

 

 

Reducing Hunger and Improving Health

More people in eastern Massachusetts are hungry now than just a few years ago, according to local food-providing organizations such as Project Bread and the Greater Boston Food Bank.   Low-income residents are often making choices between food and rent, heat, or medical care.  Choosing lower-cost – albeit lower nutritional-value – foods without fresh fruits and vegetables can lead to poor nutrition and health issues such as obesity, a particular danger for children.  In many cities, less affluent areas have 30% fewer supermarkets.   Urban agriculture often provides the only accessible and affordable source of produce for these underserved areas, and can create a plentiful bounty for cash-strapped shelters.

 

 

Growing the Economy and Lowering Pollution

Did you know that food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,300 miles from the farm to the market shelf?  Almost every state buys 85-90% of its food from someplace else. In Massachusetts, this food import imbalance translates to a $4 billion leak in the state economy every year. University of Massachusetts studies have determined that Massachusetts could produce closer to 35% of its food supply. This 20% increase would contribute $1 billion annually to the state, and could help limit the state’s truck pollution.  Additionally, keeping local farms in business provides jobs that supplement town and neighborhood economies.

 

The Food Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Tax ID: 04-3262532

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