Monday, July 24, 2006

Inspiration in Sacramento!

On Thursday I was invited to participate in an extremely inspiring tour of school garden work in Sacramento and Davis. The tour was hosted by Dan Desmond, a major guru in the field of garden-based education. Dan is a Fellow in the Kellogg Foundation's Food & Society Policy Fellowship, and he has connected his fellow fellows to garden-based education as a key link in the chain of food systems, nutrition education and policy.

I enjoyed an exciting day of getting to know these fellows. They are amazing role models for those of us working to build careers in the world of food systems, sustainable agriculture, nutrition and youth education.

Dan Desmond, UC Cooperative Extension
Melinda Hemmelgarn, 'Food Sleuth', Media Literacy specialist
Dr. Jennifer Wilkins, Cornell University & Cornell Farm to School Program
Susan Roberts, Director, Food & Society Policy Fellowship
Fern Gale Estrow, Nutrition Consultant (friend of the Fellows, not a Fellow herself)

Not only were my tour-mates inspiring, but the sites we visited were truly life-changing! In spite of the super intense central valley heat (110 degrees at least!!) we saw some beautiful urban farms run for youth, and even by youth, to bring healthy and sustainable food systems and education to youth and their communities. Our itinerary:

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom
Judy Culbertson, Executive Director
Connected to the state Farm Bureau and the national ag in the classroom org, CFAITC provides glossy curriculum materials to help teachers educate young people about agriculture. Although limited by the requirement of no negative press for agriculture--period--their materials are great.

Grant High School–Garden of Ethnic American Treasures (EAT)

Ann Marie Kennedy, Garden Teacher and Director
High school students run this beautiful school garden as an after school intership for school credit (ag vocational credit, too, a new one for us city kids) and in school as part of biology classes. They grow, harvest, cook and eat their own food, run a cut flower business, and run a salsa buisness that they manage and market for. This summer Workreation students, part of a Sacramento city youth employment program, visit the garden once a week to work, cook and eat fresh food. This program is all about youth leadership and youth development. They have a LOT to teach the rest of us!

Soil Born Farm
Shawn Harrison, Executive Director
This is a full on urban farm, right next to Jonas Salk Middle School in Sacramento. Besides providing garden-based education at the school they are a real working farm, with farm apprentices, that sells produce through their CSA and other markets, while also providing food to the local low-income community and education to the students at the school. A real farm, with profit-making activities! Amazing. Pics on this post were taken at Soil Born Farm (see school bus in background!).

University of California, Davis: Sustainable Food Systems
Mark Van Horn, Director, Organic Farming, Student Farm & Ecological Gardens
Children's Garden: Carol Hillhouse, Director; Jeri Ohmart & Katie Hume, Coordinators
Jane Pinckney, Growing Connections
UC Davis has a beautiful student farm and children's garden that has a CSA for students and faculty, educational garden tours for kids and school groups, training and support for teachers and schools in school garden-based education, and an internship program for university students. So much stuff going on! They are getting ready to start a new center of sustainable ag studies including an undergraduate major.

UC School Nutrition Research Group
Another connected group is the UC Davis Department of Nutrition, presented to us by another food systems role model, Marilyn Briggs. Marilyn was the assistant superintendent for the
state of California and state Director of Nutrition Services, and she is now working on her doctorate in nutrition sciences at Davis with researchers like Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr. This group is creating the Center for Nutrition Education in Schools and has big plans to support California schools and families through nutrition education including garden-based education.

The folks and UC Davis and at CFAITC are both founding members of the California School Garden Network, another of my favorite resources.


Melinda Hemmelgarn said...

Abby, this is a wonderful summation of our visit and the photos are great. Thanks so much for putting this together. Now, don't you have a wedding to go to?
Wishing you happiness and a long healthy, lovely life together.
Melinda Hemmelgarn

Fern Gale Estrow said...

You were a great addition to our group and I look forward to learning more about Urban Sprouts...this is my first blog response...not so difficult. Have a wonderful wedding and honeymoon - wherever that may be, and I look forward to being in touch upon your return.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Best Regards
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